Professor motivates students with words

November 18, 2011 Feature Print Print

Amy Wilson

Motivating students in a myriad of ways is what Amy Wilson, Learning Skills Professor, enjoys doing.

Each semester in her College Writing II class, Wilson issues a challenge to her students, a wellness challenge.

“I want to motivate students to write.” she said

“Their writing is more engaged and stronger when it’s something they’re engaged in or connected too,” Wilson said.

The students pick their own wellness habit they want to adopt, then log and keep track of their progress.

At the end of three weeks, the students write a persuasive paper about the habit they adopted.

Wilson leaves it up the students if they want to continue with the goal.

“One girl last spring wanted to lose a half pound every week and from then until this semester she has lost 38 pounds. In addition to acquiring and improving writing skills, we’re actually improving ourselves and helping each other out,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she creates an encouraging environment where students help others reach their goals.

“We do it together and each week we have meetings where we discuss our goals and our progress for the week,” she said.

“One student wanted to stop smoking and was having a difficult time. His classmates were sending him websites and texting him daily encouraging him to not smoke.

“I appreciate the help too, I’m trying to be a vegetarian but I’m not being very successful, I keep backsliding. I do a better job when the class is doing the project with me!”

The effects of this exercise go far beyond writing skills ,OCCC student Austin Payne said. Payne attempted to go vegan for a week.

“It’s very hard to be vegan in America, but after only three or four days my cognitive skills improved dramatically.” Payne said. “I had a clearer head and much better ability to focus, for longer amounts of time.

“The wellness challenge has changed my diet and me for the rest of my life,”

Payne recommends everyone take Wilson’s class.

“I have so much respect for my teacher. She opened my eyes and helped me improve so many areas of my life from only one assignment.

“I’m very thankful.” Payne said.

Wilson said part of the fun of this assignment is seeing what her students will choose.

“One mother and her daughter attempted to skate around their apartment complex everyday and pick up trash while doing so.”

“The wellness challenge makes writing less boring for them,” she said.

“Students come in and don’t like to write.

“It’s my goal to change their mind by the end of the semester,” Wilson said.

“I keep doing this activity for their health but mainly because connecting to an activity makes them better writers.”

To contact Priscilla Colley, email

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