Diversity in assessment
Observation is most commonly used in teaching, clinical and other professional settings. The purpose is usually to provide feedback on what the student has learned from a particular or series of experiences, with reference to alternative approaches that could have been applied and how such 'learning from experience' might be carried forward into further practice.
Other reflective activities - such as keeping a journal and continuously updating personal or professional development plans - are likely to be used in conjunction with direct observation, and may be summatively assessed along with the outcomes of observation.
A disadvantage in both formative and summative contexts is that the act of being observed in itself is likely to affect behaviours on the part of both assessor and the candidate. Reliability is therefore an issue with this form of assessment. Consequently, in most cases direct observations result in a simple pass/fail.