Introducing the Checklist of Key Considerations for Development of Program Logic Models by Goldie MacDonald

Hello from Atlanta, Georgia! I’m Goldie MacDonald, and I am the Associate Director for Evaluation in the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rad Resource: I’m excited to share the Checklist of Key Considerations for Development of Program Logic Models with this community. With support from The Faster Forward Fund, I created this checklist to provide an open-access tool rooted in selected literature and practice-based knowledge. While there are many resources on logic models, I wanted to prepare a useful job aid for evaluators and non-evaluators alike. Unlike a lengthy manual, workshop, or textbook, job aids help professionals complete a task on-demand and in real-time. Job aids can accelerate or improve practice via experiential, hands-on learning. The checklist addresses crucial items necessary to develop a logic model: determining the scope, basic components and format, distilling and representing program theory, and preparing a narrative explanation of the graphic.

The checklist is complementary to other well-respected resources on logic models including the Logic Model Development Guide by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models, an on-line course developed by the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

How is this checklist on logic models different from other resources on the same topic?

  • Explains what practitioners and stakeholders should do when developing a logic model and includes advice for avoiding common missteps throughout the process.
  • Aids users in developing a robust depiction of a program and veering away from too simple representations of programming.
  • Assists users in developing their logic modeling skills over time, instead of one-directional transfer of knowledge at a single point in time.
  • Includes content applicable in diverse settings and is not tailored to one field or type of program.

Lesson Learned:

Since attending Evaluation 2018, a conference focused on Speaking Truth to Power, I’ve been thinking a lot about voice. I love Hamilton: An American Musical. I changed my license plate to HAMLTON shortly after the show opened on Broadway in 2015. In the second act, moments after shooting Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr quietly realizes that the “world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me.” He understands that there is space for many and divergent voices. In that spirit, there are many high-quality resources on logic models available in various forms—explore the CDC Library Guide on Logic Models for a well-curated collection of open-access resources. Likewise, this checklist incorporates a range of voices. I received detailed feedback on this tool from seven evaluation experts, three non-evaluator peers in my organization, representatives of two foundations, and seven additional practitioners who field tested the checklist. I add my voice to the chorus via this checklist and invite you to join the conversation too—the world is wide enough.

Visit the Evaluation Checklists Project at Western Michigan University for more checklists!

HAMLTON Georgia license plate

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “Introducing the Checklist of Key Considerations for Development of Program Logic Models by Goldie MacDonald”

  1. Hello Goldie,
    As a student who is new to Program evaluation and Program Logic Models, I found your checklist to be very helpful (in fact, I wish I had found it earlier). I am currently involved in a project that would benefit greatly from a program evaluation and the follow areas were very useful to our project;
    • How do stakeholders determine the scope of a logic model?
    I found this valuable to break down the scope of the logic model into multiple components, our program focuses not only on a training model but also on an implementation model of written plans, therefore breaking them into two models is extremely helpful.
    • What basic components should a logic model include?
    This was very simplistic, in the best way, as I shared this figure with my partner, who has little experience in evaluation, she found it easy to understand and was able to easily identify our inputs and outputs.
    • How do logic models illustrate the underlying logic of a program or distill program theory?
    I strongly encourage all evaluators to sit down and have a conversation about how stakeholders expect a program to go and what results they expect over time. This is an important conversation not only for your evaluation, but it helps target where to focus your resources.
    • What are key items to include when formatting a logic model?
    Again, this section provides a fool proof guide to the layout and set up of the model, I feel that this allows the model to be as clear and as simple as possible for non-evaluators and stakeholders.
    • What should a narrative explanation of a logic model include?
    This was the most valuable section for me, as it lead me to questions I had not considered in my evaluation such as contribution vs. attribution. I personally wanted our program to attribute for the changes brought about in behaviour management, but it is important to look at contributing factors as well and how they may have influenced the outcome.

    Thank you again for your checklist, I will keep this in my references that are used often.

    1. Hi Marilyn, thank you for these comments and interest in checklists! It sounds like your experience as a student new to program evaluation would make a wonderful AEA365 post! Please contact me if I can provide any additional support as you continue your work, Goldie

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