Logic Models: Building a Firm Foundation for Program Evaluation

By Sorrel Brown, PhD Iowa State University

How to make a blog on Logic Models exciting, what a challenge!  A few years ago there was quite a flurry on developing logic models for Extension programs.  Some states adopted them wholeheartedly, others not so much.  Here at Iowa State Extension several program areas use them extensively (and effectively).  In Agriculture & Natural Resources (my area of focus) logic models haven’t been completely embraced.  I’ve done professional development sessions for specialists; the most success I’ve had is working with groups who are submitting federal grants (a natural since logic models are required).  What has intrigued me is that when I work one-on-one or with small groups to help them develop a working model, they ‘get’ it.  I actually had one faculty member who had a ‘eureka’ moment when we finished, with the comment “This was easy!”  Which begs the question, how do we get staff to see the value of a good ‘working’ logic model?? Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

By the way, the American Evaluation Association has its annual conference the week of October 22-27.  A pre-conference professional development workshop “Logic Models Beyond” is being offered Wednesday, October 24 from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in case anyone plans to go to the conference.

The workshop will cover topics such as:

  • The essential nature of a ‘model’, its strengths and weaknesses;
  • Techniques for working with stakeholders to develop a logic model;
  • When and how to use logic models across the entire evaluation life cycle;
  • The value of using multiple forms and scales of a model for the same evaluation;
  • Relationships among logic models, measurement, methodology, and various types of theory; and
  • Principles of good graphic design for logic models – balancing readability and information richness.