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In the Spring 2001 issue of The Evaluation Exchange (Vol. VII, No. 2), Harvard Family Research Project examined logic model basics. Now, we revisit this topic in the context of out-of-school time programs. Julia Coffman describes one approach programs can take to develop a logic model.

Many of us at one time or another will be asked to help develop a logic model. Their use as a convenient tool for strategic planning, evaluation planning, grantmaking, and communications has proliferated in recent years.

Logic models are a concise way to show how a program is designed and how it will make a difference for a program’s participants and community. A logic model summarizes the program’s key elements, reveals the rationale behind its approach, articulates its intended outcomes, and shows the relationship between the program and those outcomes. A logic model also can help identify the core elements of an evaluation plan.

There is no one “right” way to construct a logic model. There are many approaches and a logic model can take on many forms. One possible approach that out-of-school time programs (and others) can use is shown in this diagram (110KB Acrobat file).¹ The example offers a picture of the logic model’s structure, along with examples often associated with out-of-school time programs.

First Column: Describing the Program
The program side, or first column, of the logic model has four elements.

  1. Desired Results
    The overall long-term vision or goal for children, adults, families, or communities. A program alone usually cannot accomplish the desired results, but it should contribute to them.
  2. Motivating Conditions and Causes
    The conditions, causes, circumstances, factors, issues, etcetera that need to change in order to achieve the desired results. The program probably will address some of these conditions or causes, but not all of them.
  3. Program Strategies
    The broad approaches that the program uses to affect the conditions or causes behind the program’s existence. They are the general methods or processes used to achieve the desired results or vision.
  4. Program Activities
    The individual services or interventions the program uses to implement its strategies.

Second Column: Identifying the Outcomes
The second column, or outcome side, of the logic model defines the program’s measurable results. The program elements in the first column should drive the development of elements in the outcome column. The program acting alone expects to produce these changes.

  1. Performance Measures
    Measures that assess the program’s progress on the implementation of its strategies and activities.

    Measures of Effort
    Also commonly known as outputs, measures of the products and services generated by program strategies and activities.

    Measures of Effect
    Changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, or behaviors in the program’s target population(s).

  2. Indicators
    Measurable elements of the program’s desired results or vision that reflect substantial changes in people, policies, or systems across an entire community. The program acting alone usually cannot achieve changes in indicators; they also require efforts from other programs or institutions working toward similar results.

    Interim Indicators
    Measures of short-term community-wide progress toward the program’s desired results.

    Ultimate Indicators
    Measures of long-term community-wide progress toward the program’s desired results. They usually require significant resource investments to affect. Performance measures and interim indicators should contribute to movement on the ultimate indicators.

Third Column: Planning Evaluation and Learning
The third column puts in place elements needed for data collection on the measures identified in the second column, and indicates how that data will be used for learning and decision making.

  1. Data Sources and Methods
    Where the data needed to track the performance measures and indicators will come from, and the methods needed to track them.
  2. Evaluation Questions
    Questions about the program that can be answered by the evaluation, or strategic decisions that can be based on it.
  3. Stakeholders
    Individuals or organizations with a vested interest in the program and who need to be involved in learning from the evaluation.
  4. Mechanisms for Learning
    Opportunities for stakeholders to come together, learn, and make decisions based on the evaluation.

For a more a more detailed description of how to develop this type of logic model, see the brief Learning from Logic Models in Out-of-School Time on HFRP’s website.

Julia Coffman, Consultant, HFRP

¹ This logic model is based on: Watson, S. (2000). Using results to improve the lives of children and families: A guide for public-private child care partnerships. Washington, DC: Child Care Partnership Project. Available at

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© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project