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Main Page breadcrumb triangle  Guide to Program Evaluation breadcrumb triangle  Planning the Evaluation:  Developing and Working with Program Logic Models

Planning the Evaluation

Developing and Working with Program Logic Models

While there are many forms, logic models specify relationships among program goals, objectives, activities, outputs, and outcomes. Logic models are often developed using graphics or schematics and allow the program manager or evaluator to clearly indicate the theoretical connections among program components: that is, how program activities will lead to the accomplishment of objectives, and how accomplishing objectives will lead to the fulfillment of goals. In addition, logic models used for evaluation include the measures that will be used to determine if activities were carried out as planned (output measures) and if the program's objectives have been met (outcome measures).

Why Use a Logic Model?

Logic models are a useful tool for program development and evaluation planning for several reasons:

  • They serve as a format for clarifying what the program hopes to achieve;
  • They are an effective way to monitor program activities;
  • They can be used for either performance measurement or evaluation;
  • They help programs stay on track as well as plan for the future; and
  • They are an excellent way to document what a program intends to do and what it is actually doing.

Learn More About What a Logic Model Is and Why To Use It

Developing a Logic Model (The Urban Institute)

Developing and Using a Logic Model (The Urban Institute)

A Guide on Logic Model Development for CDCA's Prevention Research Centers (Sundra, Scherer, and Anderson)

Logic Model for Program Planning and Evaluation (University of Idaho-Extension)

How to Develop a Logic Model

Developing a logic model requires a program planner to think systematically about what they want their program to accomplish and how it will be done. The logic model should illustrate the linkages of among the elements of the program including the goal, objectives, resources, activities, process measures, outcomes, outcome measures, and external factors.

Logic Model Schematic

The following logic model format and discussion was developed by the Juvenile Justice Evaluation Center (JJEC) and maintained online by the Justice Research and Statistics Association (www.jrsa.org) from 1998 to 2007.

Logic Model

The following discussion explains the interconnectedness among the elements of the logic model.

At the top of the logic model example is a goal which represents a broad, measurable statement that describing the desired long-term impact of the program. Knowing the expected long-term achievements a program is expected to make will help in determining what the overall program goal should be. Sometimes goals are not always achieved during the operation of a program. However, evaluators or program planners should continually re-visit the program's goals during program planning.

An objective is a more specific, measurable concept focused on the immediate or direct outcomes of the program that support accomplishment of your goal. Unlike goals, objectives should be achieved during the program. A clear objective will provide information concerning the direction, target, and timeframe for the program. Knowing the difference your program will make, who will be impacted, and when will be helpful when developing focused objectives for your program.

Resources or inputs can include staff, facilities, materials, or funds, etc--anything invested in the program to accomplish the work that must be done. The resources needed to conduct a program should be articulated during the early stages of program development to insure that a program is realistically implemented and capable of meeting its stated goal(s).

Activities represent efforts conducted to achieve the program objectives. After considering the resources a program will need, the specific activities that will be used to bring about the intended changes or results must be determined.

Process Measures are data used to demonstrate the implementation of activities. These include products of activities and indicators of services provided. Process measures provide documentation of whether a program is being implemented as originally intended. For example, process measures for a mental health court program might include the number of treatment contacts or the type of treatment received.

Outcome measures represent the actual change(s) or lack thereof in the target (e.g., clients or system) of the program that are directly related to the goal(s) and objectives. Outcomes may include intended or unintended consequences. Three levels of outcomes to consider include:

Initial outcomes: Immediate results of a program.
Intermediate outcomes: The results following initial outcomes.
Long Term: The ultimate impact of a program.

External Factors, located at the bottom of the logic model example, are factors within the system that may affect program operation. External factors vary according to program setting and may include influences such as development of or revisions to state/federal laws, unexpected changes in data sharing procedures, or other similar simultaneously running programs. It is important to think about external factors that might change how your program operates or affect program outcomes. External factors should be included during the development of the logic model so that they can be taken into account when assessing program operations or when interpreting the absence or presence of program changes.

If-Then Logic Model

Another way to develop a logic model is by using an "if-then" sequence that indicates how each component relates to each other. Conceptually, the if-then logic model works like this:
IF [program activity] THEN [program objective] and IF [program objective] THEN [program goal].

In reality, the if-then logic model looks like this:
IF a truancy reduction program is offered to youth who have been truant from school THEN their school attendance will increase and IF their school attendance is increased THEN their graduation rates will increase.

Another way to conceptualize the "if-then" format:

  • If the required resources are invested, then those resources can be used to conduct the program activities.
  • If the activities are completed, then the desired outputs for the target population will be produced.
  • If the outputs are produced, then the outcomes will indicate that the objectives of the program have been accomplished.

Developing program logic using an "if-then" sequence can help a program manager or evaluator maintain focus and direction for the project and help specify what will be measured through the evaluation.

Common Problems When Developing Logic Models

  • Links among elements (e.g., objectives, activities, outcome measures) of the logic model are unclear or missing.

  • It should be obvious which objective is tied to which activity, process measure, etc. Oftentimes logic models contain lists of each of the elements of a logic model without specifying which item on one list is related to which item on another list. This can easily lead to confusion regarding the relationship among elements or result in accidental omission of an item on a list of elements.

  • Too much (or too little) information is provided on the logic model.

  • The logic model should include only the primary elements related to program/project design and operation. As a general rule, it should provide the "big picture" of the program/project and avoid providing very specific details related to how, for example, interventions will occur, or a list of all the agencies that will serve to improve collaboration efforts. If you feel that a model with all those details is necessary, consider developing two models; a model with the fundamental elements and a model with the details.

  • Objectives are confused with activities.

  • Make sure that items listed as objectives are in fact objectives rather than activities. Anything related to program implementation or a task that is being carried out in order to accomplish something is an activity rather than an objective. For example, 'hire 10 staff members' is an activity that is being carried out in order to accomplish an objective such as 'improve response time for incoming phone calls.'

  • Objectives are not measurable.

  • Unlike goals which are not considered measurable because they are broad, mission-like statements, objectives should be measurable and directly related to the accomplishment of the goal. An objective is measurable when it specifically identifies the target (who or what will be affected), is time-oriented (when it will be accomplished), and indicates direction of desired change. In many cases, measurable objectives also include the amount of change desired.

    Other Logic Model Examples

    Phoenix Gang Logic Model

    OJJDP Generic Logic Model

    University of Missouri Extension Program Planning and Development Logic Model

    University of Wisconsin-Extension Logic Model

    Learn More About How to Develop a Logic Model

    Developing a Logic Model to answer the question: What specific outcomes do we hope will result from this Integrated Assessment? (University of Wisconsin-Extension, Division of Cooperative Extension)

    Enhancing Performance with Logic Models (University of Wisconsin-Extension, Division of Cooperative Extension)

    Establishing Goals, Objectives and Evaluation Criteria (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

    CONTINUE to "Assessing Program Performance"



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