Objective: Use a personal observation (your own experience, something you've witnessed), or a set of related observations, to illustrate and comment upon scholarly ideas and explanation.
Tricks of the trade: Of all the essay styles in the social sciences, the observation-reflection essay most closely corresponds to the student's experience of reading or engaging scholarly materials, since we often make sense of an idea by "trying it out" using our own experiences or observations.
However, the essay shouldn't literally narrate this reading experience.
A useful conceit is to propose to illustrate an idea or argument that's of general interest to your readers, using a case-study example that — hey, how convenient is that!
— just happens to come from your personal observations.
Training is often required if an observation protocol is used for research or other purposes where reliability between observers is essential. The Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS): A New Instrument to Characterize University STEM Classroom Practices.
Also, while using a protocol just once provides a snapshot view of the classroom, multiple observations can enhance the reliability of the assessments.
Because observation protocols are typically designed to measure particular approaches, instructors should be careful to choose one for its specific assessment purpose.
In contrast, teaching inventories can often be completed quickly by the instructor to obtain an overall assessment of practices. The Teaching Practices Inventory: A New Tool for Characterizing College and University Teaching in Mathematics and Science.
Transitions from the general/scholarly introduction into your personal observations and then back are particularly important.
Beyond telling a coherent story, pay attention to introducing key details in your observations that illustrate the scholarly materials supporting your analysis.