Sally Honeycutt on Developing Logic Models

My name is Sally Honeycutt, and I am the Evaluation Team Lead for the Emory Prevention Research Center (EPRC).  The EPRC primarily works in rural Southwest Georgia and focuses on strategies to make rural home and neighborhood environments more supportive of cancer prevention behaviors, including physical activity and healthy eating.  We also provide technical assistance to enhance the capacity of community organizations to plan, conduct, and evaluate evidence-based cancer prevention programs.

When we begin working with a new organization, one of our first steps is to develop a program logic model.  A logic model is a graphic representation of how a program is supposed to work.  It describes the relationship between a program’s inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes.  People who are unfamiliar with logic models are often intimidated by them, but logic models are actually a great, common-sense way to clarify and explain your program.  In developing a logic model, keep these tips in mind:

  • Logic model development should always be a collaborative task, drawing on the input of multiple stakeholders with different perspectives on a program.  (Big sticky-notes are a handy tool for group logic model work.)
  • A logic model should be logical.  All of your links (A à B) should make sense and be plausible, not wild leaps of faith.  Links should be supported by research, examples from other programs, or previous experience with your population.
  • Your logic model should be complete, with no dead-ends.  Starting with your inputs, you should be able to follow every possible path and wind up at a long-term outcome.  Starting with each of your outcomes, you should be able to track back to an initial input.
  • Your logic model should be a living document that you revisit and revise as the program changes and matures over time.

Rad Resource: “Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models”  is a short online course from the University of Wisconsin-Extension.  The course is a clear, user-friendly introduction to logic models.

Rad Resource: The Logic Model Development Guide from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provides detailed, practical guidance in developing and using logic models, including forms and templates that you can adapt and use on your own project.

Rad Resource: The University of Kansas Community Tool Box has a great section on logic models, including many examples of logic models that use a variety of graphical formats.

Rad Resource: You can also download our handouts from our session at the 2010 AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute on Logic Models as a Platform for Program Evaluation Planning, Implementation, and Use of Findings in the AEA Public eLibrary.

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