When I look at some of the other assignments that my coworkers are putting together, they are admittedly much more structured, and require much more work on behalf of the teacher, at least as far as the initial set up our concern, but yet I don't think I really want to go in that direction. The problem with assignments like that is that while they definitely keep students on rails much better, they typically all yield to the exact same project. Or rather the teacher has the final project in mind, and it's simply a matter of the students getting to that point. For example if you want students to write a short story, and you tell them it should be 25 lines long, and tell them what things should be on each line, even if they end up putting the story together, have a really written the story at all? Yes they might have something that looks organized and fancy, but haven't they just followed directions through to an inevitable conclusion? Even giving the students an example of what the final project should look like stunts they're thinking, because often that is the only thing that they can think of from then on. And yet this isn't an easy decision.
Every time I move in the direction of project-based learning ( or whatever you want to call it these days) there is always a part of me that thinks I need to go back and add more structure and more instructions. Every time I start to add more instructions, I realize and limiting the students and break everything down again. It's a constant back-and-forth, and finding the middle ground is much more difficult than taking a hard-line stance on one side or the other.
In short I think all projects in a little bit of both, but it also takes a little bit of courage, because sometimes the students don’t even know what they need.