Good Observation

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

Based upon entries within the World English Dictionary, there are four major types of “observations.” 1) The first type represents the “act of observing.” This is “observation” defined in its basic, physical sense. 2) The second definition refers to scientific activities; in this context, observation refers to “facts learned from observing.” Scientists who conduct lab experiments will produce a report of their observations concerning a particular scientific phenomenon. 3) The last two definitions actually refer to writing activities. Within the context of writing, the term “observation” refers to “comment, remark” and “detailed examination.”

Understanding the meaning of a term is important. When you receive the comment “Good Observation,” you need to know to what the professor is referring. You know for certain that your professor is not referring to the first two definitions, unless you are writing an essay for a science class. Therefore, you can conclude that your professor must be referring to the last two definitions. Since this is likely the case, to which of the two does “Good Observation” apply? Before reading the rest of this entry, locate the comment on your paper and determine if it is near a particular sentence or a major body paragraph. This will help you understand the explanation for the comment more fully.

“Good Observation” may fall under one or two of the definitions. For example, if the comment is 1) near a particular sentence, this means that of all the sentences you have written this one sentence provides more insight about the example, topic, or quote. Your insight might highlight something different or something that the professor hasn’t thought about concerning the literary work or the topic. In other words, the observation is unique. In this instance, your observation is an objective comment based solely on logic and deductive reasoning. On the other hand, if the comment “Good Observation” is 2) near a full body paragraph, then it refers to the fourth definition of observation, which is “detailed examination.” In this case, your observation represents a patient exploration of the ideas expressed within the literary work. What does this mean?

First, you explain concepts and ideas the author expresses. In other words, you don’t just insert a quote, but you provide a follow-up analysis of the author’s viewpoints. Second, you develop and present the information logically. This is what we mean by “patient exploration.” You don’t suffer the reader to misunderstand your points of view. Last, you set reasonable boundaries. In other words, you know that you can’t discuss the world in one body paragraph. Therefore, you only include ideas that are relevant to the work and to proving your claims and that also provide insight to stir the professor’s and reader’s interests in the topic. “Good Observation” within the context of these two examples represents positive replies to your essay.

“Good Observation” may also represent a negative reply depending upon the goals of your professor for the class. For example, if you only provide one good observation throughout the whole essay, then your professor can accuse you of not fully exploring the topic as in the case of the remark placed near a line and/or a body paragraph. Your professor may not say this to you aloud, but you have done basically the minimum required for the assignment. You have not fully explored the theme, example, quote, idea, issue, and/or problem within your essay. In other words, you could say much more, but you don’t. Because you haven’t fully explored the topic, this either means that you don’t know how to discuss, examine, and evaluate or you actually know how. If you know how to explore a topic, but you don’t fulfill the requirement, then your professor may use “Good Observation” as a negative reply to prompt you to reach higher than satisfactory.

It is not always easy to know if you have truly covered every base within your analysis. However, there are times when you know with certainty that you have not allowed enough time to meet the writing requirement. If you don’t know how to explore a topic, then here are some tips and questions to consider as you develop your analysis.

1) First, look for contradictions in a character’s “character.” A character is never perfect. Evaluate the character in light of how he or she interacts with others in the story in order to locate the flaws.

2) Second, describe the kinds of relationships the main character has with other characters. Stories are always filled with relationships. The main character is in relationship with someone in the story. What is that relationship? Is the main character dependent upon a secondary character? What are the conflicts between characters?

3) Last, bring in historical context and explain how the past influences or contributes to the attitude of the main character within the story. What is the character’s environment? Who affects the character’s attitude within this environment?

By answering these questions and implementing one or more of these tips, you will ensure that you not only meet the requirement, but also fully explore the topic. Remember always to do what your professor requires you to do. On a basic level, you must ensure your paper reflects the instruction on which it is based. On another level, allow sufficient time for providing good observations that include detailed examinations of the topic, not just mere comments or remarks.

For an extended explanations, see also the comments “Good Job,” “Well Done,” and “Well Written & Researched” for extended explanations.

You may also view related margin comments such as “Right” and “Right/On the Right Path.” 

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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