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A guide to developing a program logic model

Summary

A program logic model describes the sequence of events to bring about change and provides the framework for the evaluation.

This table shows a sequence of events and the program results achieved by this sequence.

A table that shows the steps in developing your logic model.

Develop a program logic model

A program logic approach describes how your prevention strategy works: what your inputs, activities and outputs will be and how these will help you achieve the desired impacts and outcomes.

The program logic model is a road map that identifies key steps required to achieve your intended outcomes and sets out how you will work to promote the key prevention actions in your setting/s. It is not as detailed as a project plan and should not replace it, however the logic model should inform the project plan and be reflected in the plan’s more detailed steps and tasks.

There are many different ways to set out your strategy’s logic model, so find one that works for the size and scope of your project and is easy to understand. This should be a flexible tool so you can revise your original plan if things do not go as you expected. Ideally you should develop a program logic model with the individual or team who will be evaluating your strategy.

Developing a logic model requires asking yourself a series of ‘if, then’ statements: ‘if I take this action, then this outcome will happen’. Setting out your strategy’s logic in this way will make it easier to evaluate.

Terminology for program logic models

Different organisations or sectors use different terminology in logic models and evaluation plans. Here are some examples of definitions:

Inputs

Inputs are your strategy’s resources such as funding, staffing, policies, evidence-based practice, partnerships’ readiness and leadership for the work.

Activities or strategies

Activities or strategies are what your strategy does, such as individual skills development, organisational development, and community action and advocacy.

Outputs

Outputs are tangible products arising from your strategy’s activities such as events, training sessions, organisational policies and practices.

Impacts

Impacts are changes sought through your strategy’s activities and outputs such as an increase in the skills of training participants to stand up against sexist comments in the workplace (practice change), improvements in workplace leadership for gender equality (structural change) or an increase in public discourse questioning traditional or rigid gender roles (norm change).

Short-term impacts are the things that the subjects of the project are expected to do immediately after their experience of the project as a direct result of their involvement. They are the immediate changes that the project is trying to make for its subjects. Short-term impacts are therefore subject focused rather than focused on the program or project. Examples include:

  • practitioners developing new relationships
  • students obtaining knowledge
  • participants developing skills
  • workplaces developing and implementing protocols and policies.

These short-term impacts are usually what get measured within the project cycle.

Medium-term impacts are the changes that are assumed to take place after the achievement of the short-term impacts. They are subject-focused but may include a broader range of subjects than just those who participated in the project activities (if the project is assumed to make changes that will apply to the broader population). Medium-term outcomes expose what the project designers want to happen as a result of the project (not necessarily what will happen). Examples include:

  • clients changing their behaviour (remember this will be influenced by, but not wholly attributable to, your intervention)
  • staff reporting that their workplace is actively addressing gender-based discrimination
  • students reporting that they experience more equal and respectful peer relationships.

The timeframe of the evaluation may determine the degree to which medium-term outcomes are measured in the evaluation as they typically require longitudinal follow-up (beyond the life of the program).

Outcomes

Outcomes are the long-term, ultimate goals of the project. They are the changes the project designers want to see in the world as a result of their project. Generally there should be no more than one or two long-term outcomes. One example is the reduction in the number of incidents of violence against women and their children.

Outcomes are not solely within the control of the project; they are linked to the project by hypothesis and logic. Due to the complexity and long-term nature of societal chance, outcomes are the result of the collective impact of many prevention projects. Outcome measures are included in the project logic as a way of demonstrating the link between the outputs and short-term outcomes, and the issue the project designers wanted to influence.

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