Logic modelling is a design tool that helps provide clear line of sight between your needs, inputs, activities and outcomes.
Introduction to logic modelling - a video
This video runs for 3:31 minutes.
[The setting is against a plain backdrop with Duncan speaking directly to camera]
Have you ever been part of a project or in a work team where you weren’t entirely clear about … the end game? What it’s all for, and how all this work we’re doing is supposed to get us there.
There might be a clear statement of purpose or intent, even a detailed list of goals and objectives and it all seems reasonable enough. But when you drill into it, it starts to get a bit slippery in your fingers.
This objective here, number 4 – what does that really mean? What would that look like in practice? And come to think of it, it’s pretty similar to number 7. Is that a different outcome? Or is this just two different ways of expressing the same thing? Maybe one leads to the other? Or it’s a less developed version of the other? Or is it the other way round?
Well, this is where logic modelling comes in. Logic modelling is a tool that helps us make our thinking about outcomes … explicit. It brings all our expectations and our assumptions about cause and effect to the surface, so we can talk about them – question them – test them.
The elements we include in a logic model depend a bit on how detailed we need it to be. But, at a minimum we want to cover off on our needs, inputs, activities and outcomes. What’s the nature of the problem, the issues that we’re trying to do something about? What are the root causes of that? And which particular bits of the problem are we trying to tackle?
There are different techniques we can use for problem analysis or needs assessment, different sources of evidence we might draw on. The important thing is to do that thinking, and write it down. If we don’t have a clear sense of what’s wrong with the status quo, it’s pretty hard to design a good response or know whether we’re making a difference.
The inputs are all the resources that we’re bringing to bear on the problem. This isn’t just new money, although of course funding may be involved. It’s also time, expertise from people on the ground, infrastructure, space, partnerships, all the ingredients that we’re using to bake this cake.
The activities well that’s all the work – it’s the action: Who is doing what, with whom? Where is this happening? When? How much of it are they doing? How often? At what level of depth or quality? Now, the detail of this is what you’d expect to see in a work plan, with timelines, deliverables, reporting requirements and so on. But the high level would go into your logic model.
And that takes us to the outcomes – the positive changes that we’re trying to bring about. That’s important to be specific here. When we do all this work … what do we expect will happen next? And then what happens, as a result of that? What’s our pathway of impact? A plausible chain of cause and effect. Teasing out the outcomes into short, medium, long term and mapping them to our activities like this is terrifically useful. If something doesn’t quite stack up in the logic, that will quickly become apparent to us, and it will give us a trigger to rethink that strategy, improve the design of our work, give us a better chance of making that difference.
The other great benefit of a logic model is it helps us know what to measure in our evaluation so we can capture meaningful data about the impact of our work.
For more go to the CESE website, cese.nsw.gov.au you’ll find guidelines, templates and more videos in this series.
(CESE: Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation)
End of transcript.
A logic model has four components
At its simplest, a logic model looks like a simple flow-chart:
- Needs are about the problem and why it’s important to address it. What issue are we trying to address?
- Inputs are the things that contribute to addressing the need (usually a combination of money, time, expertise and resources). What resources are we investing?
- Activities describe the things that the inputs allow to happen. What are we doing with these resources?
- Outcomes are usually expressed in terms of measures of success. What difference are we hoping to make?
When should I use a logic model?
Logic modelling can help guide the design process, as well as evaluation. It is best done by the people who are developing and implementing a program or policy with an experienced evaluator, if possible. Ideally, a logic model is used at the start of planning a program to ensure alignment between the purpose of the program, the inputs, the activities and the intended outcomes.
Developing a logic model helps us to:
- design programs and initiatives that are responsive to needs and have a good chance of working
- identify and express assumptions, which can then be validated or challenged by looking at the research, and/or tested in an evaluation
- identify external factors that are beyond our control, but which may impact directly or indirectly on the effectiveness of the activities
- identify possible ways the activities might derail or have negative consequences, so that we can guard against these, manage them actively and explore them in an evaluation
- identify key process linkages that might be examined in a process evaluation
- identify key results or markers of progress that we might want to look for in an outcome evaluation.
Read a step-by-step guide for developing a logic model in a school context.