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Community Member

What data can be pulled for at-risk students? - Asking for new startup

Hi there,

My name’s Kim and I’m excited to be working on a new startup that seeks to help thousands and thousands of students stay in online learning programs and fulfill their dreams. The start up will be powered by emphatic and experienced ‘‘retention coaches’ who call and make genuine connections with students who are at risk of dropping out to work with them to troubleshoot their learning programs. We seek to bring the human touch to supporting at risk students.

We’re working towards building a portal for our coaches to use - and we’re curious to know what info we could potentially pull in from Canvas API (assuming we have college X on board as a client).

In our prototype portal, we were wondering if we could pull this info from Canvas:

  • If a student hasn’t logged in for X amount of time (say, a week)
  • If a student is behind on their assignments
  • If a student’s grades are suffering
  • If a student is the first in their family to attend college (first generation)
  • If a student is low-income
  • Has this student completed an online class before?
  • Reports/alerts of poor performance from students’ professors

For the past two years, I’ve been a high school counselor in West Virginia. I’m passionate about bringing big hearts and just enough tech to help students reach their goals.

I’d love your thoughts and feedback on what may be possible for our beta app!


5 Replies
Community Team
Community Team

Hello, kimjohnson Welcome to the Canvas Community! Since you're looking for information about what data is available, I've shared your question with some groups to get the eyes of specialists upon it. Someone from the,‌, and/or‌ groups might be well positioned to address at least some of your questions.


The first three can be addressed using Canvas APIs. Look at the documentation to determine how to get the data.

The rest of the items sound like things your business needs to determine, perhaps by asking customers to supply that. Be careful of FERPA regulations, of course.

Community Member

Hey kimjohnson,‌ really nailed it on your list of bullets and stefaniesanders gave you some great direction on other aspects of the community you can explore.

I'd like to try and offer some more thoughts to help you along your way because it sounds like a worthwhile project. We've actually talked about creating something like this within our institution's Distance Education program. We were using the working title of "Student Success Managers" in homage of Canvas' Customer Success Managers (CSMs). This sounds a lot like what your startup is trying to do, and I can see that there could be some potential for this service to be offered by a 3rd party rather than done internally.

First, you should thoroughly investigate existing retention solutions such as Alliance Partner - AspirEDU‌ which creates a product called Dropout Detective. We aren't a customer but the general sense from the community that I get is that people are quite happy with this service.(We LOVE Dropout Detective!‌, Dropout Detective & Instructor Insight Launch in Australia!!‌, EdSurge Report on Student Success Tools‌). There are others, and you can find many in the Partnerships‌ space.

Rather than try and compete with these existing providers, you may consider an avenue for simply layering your personal outreach services on top of existing data reporting solutions. There may even be partnership opportunities between a startup such as you describe and a company like AspirEDU. For instance, could your company bundle DropOut Detective as a part of your services? This would reduce development, allow you to advertise something people already seem pleased with, and solve your needs for dashboards. This could potentially be a mutually beneficial relationship as dashboard builders could use your team for valuable feedback on dashboard development.

If you decide to go at data collection and reporting on your own, you'll at least want to provide parity with existing providers and then look at expanding beyond there. There have been a number of great discussions recently on the types of reports and data sets that admins, instructors, and other student success staff. Just search around for "analytics" "data" "canvas data" and you'll turn up lots of questions and answers related to your project. Some examples, time spent on page, geographic information, browser type and version, what order content is being viewed in, how fast messages to or from instructors are being responded to, time spent on quizzes, how long before due dates is work getting completed. Most of this can be found in Canvas Data‌ but only some from the API. 

Good luck and keep us posted. 

Surveyor II

Hi kimjohnson‌ -- we work with awilliams‌ and were a start-up just a short five years ago.  Our partner page is‌ and I would be happy to share our experiences - and war stories - if you'd like to reach out to me.  Good luck!

Community Member

Wow! I really appreciate all of the helpful information and the candid dialogue. The news that a great dashboard already exist is wonderful. My vision is that Kickstand’s number one strength is human care along with evidence-based practices. To know that it is possible for me focus on this part of the startup rather than the web app and analytics is great news. Of course, I have more questions and will work to refine these and stay in touch. Thank you so much for your encouragement for pointing me and my team in new directions. –Kim, Thomas, WV