When I arrived at the monkey exhibit at the zoo, it was 3:00 p.m., and there weren’t many people around. There was only one small girl wearing white shorts and blue flip flops and her mom, who was holding a bag filled with snacks and souvenirs from the zoo.
When I looked for the monkeys, I didn’t see any at first. When I stepped closer, though, I could finally see that there were two monkeys at the back of the enclosure, sitting on one of the branches.
The brief paragraphs above could easily be taken from an observation essay. But what’s the first thing you think of when you read them? (Other than the fact that it’s probably been a long time since you’ve been to the zoo.)
Most people reading the example paragraphs are going to think, “so what?”
Even though the goal of an observation essay is to describe your observations, it must also have a purpose. This example doesn’t seem to have one (other than to tell readers that the writer went to the zoo).
If you’re looking for a little more clarification on how to add the “so what” into your paper, here are a few tips for writing a brilliant observation essay.
The Observation Essay: How to Make More Brilliant Observations
When you hear the words “observation essay,” it’s easy to think, “How difficult can it be? All I have to do is write about what I see.”
Well, yes and no.
You do have to write about what you see, but there’s more to it than that.
Let’s get focused (literally), and I’ll explain what I mean.
What’s your point?
If you’re writing an observation essay, it might sound like you should be writing a descriptive paper because you’re writing about your surroundings. Your goal isn’t simply to write description, though.
You need to have a purpose.
Before you sit down some place and start jotting down notes about everything around you, it’s essential that you figure out the point you want to make.
Let’s say you go to the zoo to observe the monkey exhibit. Are you going to observe the monkeys, the visitors, or both?
Your decision will be based on the goal of your paper. Maybe you’re studying animal behavior, and you want to see how a specific type of monkey behaves during feeding time.
Maybe you’re studying the similarities between humans and monkeys, and you want to observe both humans and monkeys to see if you can find any patterns.
Whatever you decide to observe, know why you’re observing before you begin.
The observation process starts with focused questions
Be prepared to observe your subject with a list of focused questions. Don’t show up with a few scrap pieces of paper and a pen, thinking you’re ready to get to work.
This lack of preparation will likely mean that you’ll just start writing down everything you see. While this type of note-taking might be appropriate for some general descriptions of your surroundings, it’s not enough for developing the main paragraphs of your observation essay.
Instead, develop a list of focused and purposeful questions to answer during your observation.
Here’s what I mean.
If you’re observing the monkey exhibit, it’s great to describe the living conditions, the surrounding exhibits, and the people visiting. But this is just background information. There’s no other purpose for this other than to set the stage.
On the other hand, if you have a purpose in mind, you can instead focus your notes on answering specific questions. Here are a few examples:
- When is feeding time?
- What happens when food is brought out?
- Do the monkeys share or fight?
- Do they eat in groups, or do they eat alone?
- Do they wait their turn or rush to grab their share?
- Can you compare this to any human behaviors?
For example, if the monkeys fight for their meals, maybe this reminds you of free pizza night on campus when everyone rushes to get a slice (or two) before it’s gone.
See the difference? Preparing focused questions before you observe your subject means you’ll have more specific details and examples in place to help you write a better observation essay.
Writing an Observation Essay, from Outline to Thesis
After you’ve completed your observations, review your notes and begin outlining your ideas.
Start with the thesis statement. This will help you focus your thoughts and decide which information will work best to support your thesis.
Next, look for evidence to support your thesis.
For instance, if you’re writing about how feeding time at the monkey exhibit looks like free pizza night on campus, select several examples that help illustrate your point.
You might write about how the monkeys all rush to the food at once (just like college students). You might then discuss your observations about how monkeys (much like college students) often attempt to get their share of the food with little regard to those around them.
Finally, work on ideas for your introduction and conclusion. (Remember, you can write essays in any order. You don’t always have to write the introduction first.)
Consider starting your paper with a unique story or anecdote based on your observations and ending with more about what you’ve learned (again, based on your observations). Starting with a good hook is always a plus too!
Want to see what a finished observation essay looks like? Check out these annotated example observation essays and this example observational report.
If you’re writing a scientific field report rather than a basic observation essay, check out Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Writing a Field Report.
No More Monkey Business
Okay, so you’ve reviewed your course notes and assignment guidelines. You’ve reviewed this article and the additional resources I’ve included.
You can’t delay the inevitable any longer. It’s finally time to get to the business of writing your observation essay. So find something to observe, and start observing! (Don’t forget to have a purpose in mind before you start.)
If, after you’ve finished your draft, you’re still not sure if you’ve written with purpose, let our editors help!
Happy observing, and happy writing!
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
Observation Essay Help: good research is the basis for any writing
An observation essay is a very common essay written by many students as part of their assignment work. In this type of an essay, the student needs to write something after the student has observed something; it could be anything, a debate, or an experiment. It may get a bit difficult for some students to write an observation essay, for the simple fact that they do not know how to place their observations in the form of an essay. Writing an essay is not like writing anything and everything what you observe. Especially for an observation essay, you have to write the essence of the observation done by the student.
Like for instance, when a student is writing an observation essay, he would first choose a topic, do the needed observation and based on that the student would start working on the essay. The information gained from the observation should be well structured. To make the essay writing a hassle free job, it is always better to format it first, i.e. with a good introduction, body and conclusion and only then go about putting it in a fair version.
Observation essay writing: choose a good topic first
When you placing the information in the fair version, first start off with a title. It so happens that after writing custom essay, if any random title is place which does not match with the content, then the students grades might go down and the custom essays would be criticized a lot for such a blunder.
In the introduction, mention the topic you have chosen for the observation essay, go about explaining few details about it. However, the explicit explanation comes only in the body where the details are explained. Be very clear in your explanation, use basic language, and do not go in for something that is beyond the average level of comprehension. Also, when you are mentioning details, the reader should get an idea of your perception about the topic and how has the observation helped you or what impact has it on you.
Observation essay help - use the 5-paragraph essay writing technique
You need not have a 3 paragraph essay; you can go in for 5 paragraph observation essay. All you need to do is break the paragraphs well and make sure the continuity exists. Also, the conclusion should be very much to the point; it cannot be too detailed, as it is just a way to sum up the above mentioned points.
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