How do I Start?
Program evaluation work is like cooking a dish from a recipe. As in all good recipes there are steps to follow, accompanied by a list of ingredients, and an image or photo of what the dish will look like in the end. As with all recipes, sometimes it is necessary to change or modify the steps or ingredients. Sometimes programs also need to be adjusted according to the realities of the community so we can maximize the benefits.
This process of collecting information allows us to reflect on the program (if it needs to be adjusted, if it lacks certain ingredients). This is what building the evidence consists of. Many models and strategies exist to support this process.
In the case of our toolkit, we have chosen to utilize the logic model as the visual guideline of the program or the list of ingredients and steps to follow, to evaluate your program or recipe. In the following section we offer more details about these tools, as well as examples of how to use it in our community work.
Remember there are also other ways to construct evidence and you can learn about them in the Resources section.
What is the logic model?
The logic model is like a map, a graph or a drawing that helps you understand the connection that exists between different parts of a program, project or initiative. Another way of looking at the logic model is like the page of a recipe, the lists of ingredients, the steps to follow, the order to take, and the time it takes to cook the dish. In other words, it is the sequence of events/activities required to shape the program.
How to develop a logic model?
There are many ways to create the logic model for a program. What is important is to include all the ingredients which will allow you to explain how it works and the rationale for the outcomes. We will use an example based on a common problem: you are thirsty and you do not feel well. Let’s look at this situation through a logic model.
Example: You are thirsty and you do not feel well.
What do you need? The first thing you have to do is find what you need—water or juice.
What do you need to do? You need to take action—drink the beverage.
What will happen after you drink the water or juice? The final result is that you will feel better and you will no longer be thirsty.
Below is this information in visual form.
Graph 1. Visual representation of “I am thirsty”.
This same example of water and thirst can also be explained in a different way and using the terminology (words) that evaluators use.
Graph 2. Logic Model of “I am thirsty”
As you can see, we are addressing the same situation or problem but using new terms. Next we offer more detail by describing each element of the logic model.
What are elements of a Logic Model?
The elements of a logic model are also known as components. Evaluators use different terms (words) to describe these components. These terms include:
Resources or Inputs: refers to the assets you have and need for the program to work. For example, these include people, money, educational materials, meeting space, etc.
Activities or Outputs: refers to what is done with the resources you have. These can be educational workshops, information campaigns, brochures, etc. It also refers to the beneficiaries of the outputs or activities, also known as the participants.
Impact or Outcomes: refers to the changes that occur as a result of the use of resources and activities. Changes can occur at an individual, family or community level. It is important to take into consideration that these changes can be positive, negative or unexpected and that the timeframe can vary between short, medium or long term.
Below we introduce an example and a graph which includes all of the previously mentioned elements.
Example: Working with animals and children at the shelter.
Mothers at a shelter have expressed to one of the advocates, their worries concerning the effects of having witnessed violence at home on their children. The mothers reported their children had problems with aggressive behavior and a lack of interest in participating in the recreational activities the shelter organizes for the children. In response to this situation, the decision has been made to offer therapy to the children through the use of animals. Let us look at this situation through the lens of a logic model.
Problem Statement: Children in the shelter are acting out the impacts of witnessing violence.
Resources or Inputs: local animal therapy program, child therapists, space at the shelter, animals, etc.
Activities or Outputs: offer animal therapy sessions with the children from the shelter, identify the ideal number of sessions and time offerings, etc.
Impacts or Outcomes: Short-term: the children engage in play therapy sessions. Medium-term: Children’s aggressive behaviors are reduced in the shelter. Long-term: children display healthier and more positive behavior all around.
Graph 3. Working with animals and children at the shelter logic model.
In the Resources section you will find several examples of program logic models, which vary according to the elements and the complexity of the situation in which they were used.