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Struggling with Logic Models?

The program logic model is defined as a picture of how your organization does its work – the theory and assumptions underlying the program. A program logic model links outcomes (both short- and long-term) with program activities/processes and the theoretical assumptions/principles of the program. – W.K.Kellogg Foundation Logic Model Development Guide

The use of Logic Models (LM) have become prevalent in all sectors, especially in education. In fact, most federal grants require an LM as part of the application. LMs make “logical” sense but creating one isn’t always logical because of confusion over terminology. For example, the difference between outputs and outcomes.

First, let’s review an LM in its simplest form. Let’s say you have a headache. A logical approach to get rid of your headache is illustrated by this LM.

To build an LM, one strategy is to start with the outcomes first (far-right column), then proceed with the inputs and strategies necessary to get results. Let’s look at a more comprehensive LM for a college readiness program.

For better viewing:

Depending on the organization, LM terminology is not always consistent. 

- Outputs and outcomes can be confusing. According to Deborah Mills-Scofield, outcomes are the difference made by the outputs. For example, your headache goes away (outcome) because you’re hydrated (output). For the college readiness LM, there will be increased parental engagement in participating high schools’ student education (long-term outcome) because the program developed and delivered six workshops for parents (output). 

- Notice that the college readiness program LM has the term “impacts” (far-right column). Don’t let this confuse you. Some organizations prefer to state “impacts” while others fold in this information into “long term outcomes.”

- The college readiness LM states “Resources” (first column). This term is interchangeable with “Inputs.”

- Not all LMs have a “Problem Statement” (top) and “Assumptions” (bottom). Nonetheless, I recommend including these parts in the LM. It reminds the organization what issue a program or the organization as a whole is addressing and under what assumptions. 

A one-page LM graphic is a powerful visual. It is, indeed, a logical way for an organization to understand the roadmap ahead but building an LM is not necessarily logical. 

I hope these examples shed some clarity on often confusing LM terms.

(A. Solano)


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