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Using logic models as planning and evaluation tools

Experience suggests that logic models are used increasingly in evaluation and program development. A number of valuable guides for developing logic models are currently available to program developers and evaluators (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004; University of Missouri Extension, 2008). Intended to provide professionals with an overview of logic models, this article specifically speaks to the value of this tool for program planning and evaluation purposes. Specific information about logic model development services provided by CETE evaluation staff is also reviewed.

Most authorities define a "logic model" as a tool that graphically represents the linkages between program activities and specific results (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004; Price, Alkema, & Frank, 2009; Milstein & Chapel, 2013). Ideally, a logic model is simple and relatively straight forward and functions to enhance understanding of program processes and outcomes (Price, Alkema, & Frank, 2009). The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (2004) stresses the use of logic models to clarify assumptions and the theory underlying an intervention or program. Milstein and Chapel (2013) note the value of logic models as tools to assist in energizing stakeholders and rallying support for interventions.

Logic models typically specify resources necessary to support specific program activities (inputs), define services that will be delivered (outputs), indicate results associated with the delivery of specific services (outcomes), and illuminate longer term results at the organizational and/or community levels (impacts). CETE evaluators use a process for creating logic models that includes specification of a formal problem statement, anticipated activities, outcomes, and impacts. Thus, CETE-facilitated logic models provide a basis for defining key issues or needs and linking programmatic responses to desired outcomes. Such models have many uses in designing and conducting evaluations and provide a context for interpreting evaluation data.

As indicated, CETE evaluators use logic models and the logic model development process as standard tools in program planning and evaluation. Once developed, such logic models provide a basis for defining key processes and outcomes and can be used as a tool to specify a formal "outcome of accountability." An outcome of accountability defines the result that represents success for a specific intervention or program. The logic model, paired with the application of a formal outcome development tool referred to as the "outcomes template," provides a basis for assessing the extent to which a specific program achieves the results for which program providers are accountable. CETE evaluators possess expertise related to the development and use of logic models for program planning and evaluation purposes. For more information, contact Dave Julian, PhD, director of Community Planning and Evaluation, at 614-292-5046 or julian.3@osu.edu.


David Julian, PhD