AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Dec/12

11

CP Week: Tara Gregory on Using Storytelling to Help Organizations Develop Logic Models

I’m Tara Gregory, Research and Evaluation Coordinator for Wichita State University’s Center for Community Support and Research (CCSR). CCSR works with non-profit, community and faith-based organizations across Kansas and was originally supported through the Community Psychology graduate program at Wichita State University. Many of our staff members, myself included, are graduates of this program so we’ve maintained a strong community psychology orientation in our principles and practices. Given the principle of meeting people where they are, we often use forms of storytelling to help organizations develop logic models

We use the following techniques to facilitate creative discussion while still attending to the elements in a traditional logic model. These processes encourage participation by multiple staff, administrators and stakeholders and can use the organization’s vision or impact statement as the “happily ever after.”

Hot tip – Script writing: We ask participants to think of their program and it’s outcomes in terms of a movie trilogy. In small groups, they create scripts for each part of the trilogy then report out on the significant scenes (much like they would if they were describing a movie they’d just seen). These scenes inform the elements of their logic model, which we typically help them to complete later, and could be focused on the individual or other contexts (e.g., community). We specifically ask them to think of Part 1 as the story of what people experience while involved in the program; Part 2 picks up at a later date (the specific timeframe depends on the program) and reflects the progression of outcomes; and Part 3 represents the transition to “happily ever after.”

The specific questions we ask participants to address in their scripts are:

  • Who are the characters, settings or contexts?
  • What do they experience/what happens to them?
  • What actions do they take as a result?

Hot tip – Pictorial timeline: Using a similar process to script writing, we ask participants to envision one of their clients, then to draw the activities and resulting behaviors or conditions that occur at various points along a timeline. This approach offers a visual path toward “happily ever after.”

Lessons learned:

  • Participants are less likely to get bogged down in concerns about the “right” way to fill out a logic model and are better able to identify outcomes, including those that are unintended or less positive, than with traditional methods.
  • Whereas completing the typical logic model matrix can be intimidating for some, these processes tend to be energizing and fun
  • These techniques work particularly well with organizations that are innovative and are open to playfulness and experimentation.

We’re celebrating all this week with our colleagues in the American Evaluation Association Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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2 comments

  • Silva · December 20, 2012 at 3:06 am

    Thanks for a very interesting post. I used a similar method in the past (asking people to describe, vividly, their “achievable dreams”, and provide a picture of future change). The storytelling approach you propose is great, so thanks again for sharing.

    Reply

  • Richard Tagle · December 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Terrific suggestion on using storytelling to develop logic models. Love it. It is engaging, creative, and allows everyone to contribute (staff, board, funders, beneficiaries…everyone has a story to tell.

    Reply

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