Why have a logic model?
Having a well-developed logic model in place is a vital part of planning a program evaluation. The logic model is a systematic picture of how your program is intended to work. It uses words and diagrams to describe the sequence of activities that are intended to bring about change and how these activities are linked to the results the program is expected to achieve. When a logic model is used as a tool for planning programs and services, the result becomes the framework for program implementation, evaluation, and future planning. The logic model can help you formulate research questions about how effectively your program is operating (process or formative evaluation), or about the extent to which your services are making a different in the lives of young people (outcome evaluation).
What is a Theory of Change diagram?
Theory of Change is essentially a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused in particular on mapping out or “filling in” what has been described as the “missing middle” between what a program or change initiative does (its activities or interventions) and how these lead to desired goals being achieved. It does this by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then works back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place (and how these related to one another causally) for the goals to occur. These are all mapped out in an Outcomes Framework.
The Outcomes Framework then provides the basis for identifying what type of activity or intervention will lead to the outcomes identified as preconditions for achieving the long-term goal. Through this approach the precise link between activities and the achievement of the long-term goals are more fully understood. This leads to better planning, in that activities are linked to a detailed understanding of how change actually happens. It also leads to better evaluation, as it is possible to measure progress towards the achievement of longer-term goals that goes beyond the identification of program outputs.
Why develop a Theory of Change?
· Theories of change help move stakeholders from being passive collectors and reporters of information to active users of information for system planning and service delivery.
· Theories of change help system and program staff better understand the kind of evaluation information they need to make day-to-day decisions.
· Theories of change help the evaluator develop research questions that focus measurement on changes that can occur given the particular strategies that are operative at the system, program, and client level.
· Because they facilitate understanding the link between strategies and the achievement of outcomes, theories of change facilitate the integration of data from broader evaluation and accreditation requirements into local evaluation efforts.
· Ultimately, having a theory of change helps those implementing strategies to understand assumptions and expectations that guide their decisions, actions, and resulting accomplishments.