Prompt – Major Assignment: Observation Essay
Note: this is a prompt only. There is nothing to submit to this page.Write an observation essay that explains the unique significance of a particular group or place or community. Describe the group or place or community through vivid description, narration, dialogue and sensory details. Help others understand what is important to and significant about this group or place or community.
Observation, as the CEL describes it, requires writers to “study their subjects and learn something by seeing them in a particular way” (93). Observation essays do more than just report facts: they also “find the hidden meaning, the significant issues, and the important aspects of a particular subject” (93).
Your purpose in this Observation Essay is to convey the significance of a particular group or place or community through details that show how the subject “fits” within the community’s priorities and values. Your descriptions and details should make it easy for someone unfamiliar with your subject to understand the significance of your group or place or community.
*Note: although this essay is intended to be based in recent, firsthand observations, you may write from recent memories instead if you are restricted in travel and mobility during the COVID pandemic. If you are writing from memories, try to recreate scenes and descriptions as though you are seeing them again for the first time.
In order to achieve this purpose, you need to:
- Observe and Take field notes. Begin with observing the group or place or community and writing down notes about what you see, hear, and sense. Plan to observe this person or place 2-3 times. In your notes, record specific actions that you notice, dialogue you overhear, interactions you have with other people, and any important details about the scene that might help you SHOW its significance through vivid detail and narration.
- Describe the group or place or community through actions, details, and dialogue that offer insight into why this person or place has unique significance.
- Explain context and background that shows how the group or place or community matters within a larger context. Context might include history, factual information, anecdotes, geographical information, or other details that help an audience understand the group or place or community as part of something bigger than themselves/itself.
- Follow a carefully planned organizational structure that gives priority to specific details, themes, and values. Your final draft should be organized to show the significance of the group or place or community and should not simply list details in the order you observed them.
- Offer a strong introduction that hooks readers with vivid details or action and focuses attention on the significance of the subject. Provide a strong conclusion that reinforces the significance you’ve pinpointed.
As you look back over your observations and notes, remember that your essay should do more than simply relate details without any larger significance. Your observation of the group or place or community should also draw out the unique, interesting, and special qualities of the group or place or community that help audiences understand why they/it has value as part of a larger community.
Caution: Please keep in mind that writing in this class is public, and anything you write about may be shared with other students and instructors. Please only write about details that you are comfortable making public within our classroom community. You should know that your teacher is required by the State of Texas (Links to an external site.) to report any suspected incidents of discrimination, harassment, Title IX sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct to the UNT Title IX coordinators. If you have any questions about anything personal that you might want to disclose, email your teacher first or consult with one of the resources listed on this page: Information on Sexual Violence and Mandatory Reporting.
Format and Length
- Format: Typed, double-spaced, submitted as a word-processing document.
12 point, text-weight font, 1-inch margins.
- Length: 1000 – 1250 words (approx. 4-5 pages)
- Value: This project will be graded out of 100 possible points, and will be part of the Unit 2 Project group, worth 20% of the grade for the course.
- Overview: For this writing project, you will use firsthand observations and discoveries to write about a person or place that has special significance in your community. Using details from your observations (or from recent memories), you will describe the person or place and convey their/its value to the community.
Objectives and Questions
These questions help to guide discussion and set up the objectives for this unit.
- Observe a group or place or community
- Record the particular details of an observation
- Reveal / convey the significance of a group or place or community through specific details in writin