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A logic model (also known as a logical framework, theory of change, or program matrix) is a tool used most often by managers and evaluators of programs to evaluate the effectiveness of a program. Logic models are usually a graphical depiction of the logical relationships between the resources, activities, outputs and outcomes of a program. While there are many ways in which logic models can be presented, the underlying purpose of constructing a logic model is to assess the "if-then" (causal) relationships between the elements of the program; if the resources are available for a program, then the activities can be implemented, if the activities are implemented successfully then certain outputs and outcomes can be expected. Logic models are most often used in the evaluation stage of a program, they can however be used during planning and implementation.
In its simplest form, a logic model has four components:
|what resources go into a program||what activities the program undertakes||what is produced through those activities||the changes or benefits that result from the program|
|e.g. money, staff, equipment||e.g. development of materials, training programs||e.g. number of booklets produced, workshops held, people trained||e.g. increased skills/ knowledge/ confidence, leading in longer-term to promotion, new job, etc.|
Following the early development of the logic model in the 1970s by Carol Weiss, Joseph Wholey and others, many refinements and variations have been added to the basic concept. Many versions of logic models set out a series of outcomes/impacts, explaining in more detail the logic of how an intervention contributes to intended or observed results. This will often include distinguishing between short-term, medium-term and long-term results, and between direct and indirect results.
Some logic models also include assumptions, which are beliefs the prospective grantees have about the program, the people involved, and the context and the way the prospective grantees think the program will work, and external factors, consisting of the environment in which the program exists, including a variety of external factors that interact with and influence the program action.
University Cooperative Extension Programs in the US have developed a more elaborate logic model, called the Program Action Logic Model, which includes six steps:
In front of Inputs, there is a description of a Situation and Priorities. These are the considerations that determine what Inputs will be needed.
By describing work in this way, managers have an easier way to define the work and measure it. Performance measures can be drawn from any of the steps. One of the key insights of the logic model is the importance of measuring final outcomes or results, because it is quite possible to waste time and money (inputs), "spin the wheels" on work activities, or produce outputs without achieving desired outcomes. It is these outcomes (impacts, long-term results) that are the only justification for doing the work in the first place. For commercial organizations, outcomes relate to profit. For not-for-profit or governmental organizations, outcomes relate to successful achievement of mission or program goals.
One of the most important uses of the logic model is for program planning. Here it helps managers to 'plan with the end in mind' Stephen Covey, rather than just consider inputs (e.g. budgets, employees) or just the tasks that must be done. In the past, program logic has been justified by explaining the process from the perspective of an insider. Paul McCawley (no date) outlines how this process was approached:
While logic models have been used in this way successfully, Millar et al. (1999) has suggested that following the above sequence, from the inputs through to the outcomes, could limit one’s thinking to the existing activities, programs and research questions. Instead, by using the logic model to focus on the intended outcomes of a particular program the questions change from ‘what is being done?’ to’ what needs to be done?’ McCawley (no date) suggests that by using this new reasoning, a logic model for a program can be built by asking the following questions in sequence:
By placing the focus on ultimate outcomes or results, planners can think backwards through the logic model to identify how best to achieve the desired results. Planners therefore need to understand the difference between the categories of the logic model.
The logic model is often used in government or not-for-profit organizations, where the mission and vision are not aimed at achieving a financial benefit. In such situations, where profit is not the intended result, it may be difficult to monitor progress toward outcomes. A program logic model provides such indicators, in terms of output and outcome measures of performance. It is therefore important in these organizations to carefully specify the desired results, and consider how to monitor them over time. Often, such as in education or social programs, the outcomes are long-term and mission success is far in the future. In these cases, intermediate or shorter-term outcomes may be identified that provide an indication of progress toward the ultimate long-term outcome.
Traditionally, government programs were described only in terms of their budgets. It is easy to measure the amount of money spent on a program, but this is a poor indicator of mission success. Likewise it is relatively easy to measure the amount of work done (e.g. number of workers or number of years spent), but the workers may have just been 'spinning their wheels' without getting very far in terms of ultimate results or outcomes. The production of outputs is a better indicator that something was delivered to customers, but it is still possible that the output did not really meet the customer's needs, was not used, etc. Therefore, the focus on results or outcomes has become a mantra in government and not-for-profit programs.
"Government likes to begin things — to declare grand new programs and causes. But good beginnings are not the measure of success. What matters in the end is completion. Performance. Results."
However, although outcomes are used as the primary indicators of program success or failure they are still insufficient. Outcomes may easily be achieved through processes independent of the program and an evaluation of those outcomes would suggest program success when in fact external outputs were responsible for the outcomes (Rossi, Lipsey and Freeman, 2004). In this respect, Rossi, Lipsey and Freeman (2004) suggest that a typical evaluation study should concern itself with measuring how the process indicators (inputs and outputs) have had an effect on the outcome indicators. A program logic model would need to be assessed or designed in order for an evaluation of these standards to be possible. The logic model can and, indeed, should be used in both formative (during the implementation to offer the chance to improve the program) and summative (after the completion of the program) evaluations.
There are numerous other popular management frameworks that have been developed in recent decades. This often causes confusion, because the various frameworks have different functions. It is important to select the right tool for the job. The following list of popular management tools is suggested to indicate where they are most appropriate (this list is by no means complete).
Organizational assessment tools
Fact-gathering tools for a comprehensive view of the as-is situation in an organization, but without prescribing how to change it:
Strategic planning tools
For identifying and prioritizing major long-term desired results in an organization, and strategies to achieve those results:
Program planning and evaluation tools
For developing details of individual programs (what to do and what to measure) once overall strategies have been defined:
Performance measurement tools
For measuring, monitoring and reporting the quality, efficiency, speed, cost and other aspects of projects, programs and/or processes:
Process improvement tools
For monitoring and improving the quality or efficiency of work processes:
Process standardization tools
For maintaining and documenting processes or resources to keep them repeatable and stable:
|This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (August 2009)|
The first manual (How to Design Better Programs) is a step-by-step guide to developing and implementing logic models. The second manual (How to Develop Better Programs) deals focuses on how-to develop experiential educational programs "based on, but not restricted to, the use of program logic models which serve as a tool for the development process." (from the Foreword).
Both manuals are available from The Program Design Institute, c/o Dr. George W. Mayeske, 12524 Knowledge Lane, Bowie, MD 20715-2622. The Logic Modeling manual is $28.00 (includes shipping) and the Better Pro-grams manual is $45.00 (including shipping) - checks only. But both manuals can be purchased at a discount. Contact Dr. Mayeske for details at email@example.com.
Available for no cost by clicking on the link to the guide on the right of the page. This guide is not as detailed as the Program Design Institute guides on the nuts and bolts of logic modeling, but is better at discussing program theory and its application. And it's free for the downloading. Highly Recommended.
Also see: W. K. Kellogg Foundation (1998). W. K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook. Available at no cost through this site by clicking on the link to the handbook.
This paper discusses the use of logic models in planning and evaluating substance abuse treatment services. The best part is the "sample data maps" that specify evaluation questions, measures, and variables. The paper is part of the Integrated Evaluation Methods Package for substance abuse treatment programs developed under the auspices of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Department of Health and Human Services. The full discussion of this evaluation framework, concepts, and tools is presented in: Devine, Patricia (1999). A Guide for Substance Abuse Treatment Knowledge-Generating Activities. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates.
There are other papers in the Integrated Evaluation Methods Package available at http://www.calib.com/home/work_samples/pubs.cfm under the heading Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation, Evaluation Tools and Resources. These papers include: Devine, Patricia (1999). A Guide to Process Evaluation of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates. Devine, Patricia, Bullman, Stephanie, & Zeaske, Jessica (1999). Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluation Product Outlines Notebook. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates. Devine, Patricia, Christopherson, Eric, Bishop, Sharon, Lowery, Jacquelyn, & Moore, Melody (1999). Self- Adjusting Treatment Evaluation Model. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates.
Moore, Melody (1998), Building Team Capability to Fully Implement and Utilize the Self-Adjusting Treatment Evaluation Model. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates. [Discusses logic models, the Self-Adjusting Treatment Evaluation Model, and Step by Step Procedures for building capability to use the model, and provides assessment instruments.]
Performance with Logic Models. The course contains two modules - Module 1, "Logic Model Basics," is an introduction to logic models; and Module 2, "Introducing The Community Nutrition Education Logic Model," is an application of logic models to community nutrition education programs. Each module has various interactive elements, including practice activities designed to help students better understand the course content. The citation is: Taylor-Powell, E., Jones, L., & Henert, E. (2002) Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models. Retrieved December 1, 2003, from the University of Wisconsin-Extension web site: http://www1.uwex.edu/ces/lmcourse/.
be purchased for $5.00 plus S&H by calling 1-800-772-0008 and ordering item number 0989. You can find the manual's table of contents and excerpts on the United Way web site.
This guide focuses on developing a logic model and selecting and implementing an evaluation design. Gives an example of a logic model for a children-at-risk program.
[Making children's mental health services successful series, volume 1]. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child & Family Studies. This monograph is a guide to developing a system of care using a theory-based approach. System stakeholders can use the theory of change approach to move from ideas to action-oriented strategies to achieve their goals and understand the relationships among the populations that the system is intended to serve.