Measuring Effectiveness and Outcomes Evaluation Basics
c. What are logic models and how are they created and used?

What was the logic you used to create your program? Can you put it into a visual model that others will understand? The term "logic model" has emerged in recent years to describe one such process. Organizations, such as United Way, various foundations, or federal agencies, often require logic models as a component of grant applications or suggest using them in developing an evaluation plan. The basic components of a simple logic model used by United Way are outlined in Figure 1.

United Way of America. Measuring Program Outcomes: A Practical Approach. Alexandria, VA: United Way of America. 1996.

Inputs are resources dedicated to or consumed by the program, e.g., staff, equipment, supplies, funding.

Activities are what the program does with the input to fulfill its mission, e.g., provide preventive dental care to children, make and insert dentures for seniors who don't have teeth, provide health education.

Outputs are the direct products of the activities, e.g., number of teeth sealed, number of seniors who received dentures, % of parents who received health education.

Outcomes are the benefits participants receive during and after the activities, e.g., improved oral health, increased knowledge.

Although these are clinical and programmatic examples, community activities and outcomes can also be used. The WK Kellogg Foundation includes a number of examples in its Logic Model Development Guide. This Guide provides a step-by-step process to develop and use different types of logic models; it includes many templates, checklists and exercises to develop a model that fits your program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has developed a PowerPoint on Using Logic Models for Program Planning and Evaluation that can be adapted for many types of programs

View an example (WORD doc) of a logic model for a school-based dental sealant program using portable equipment.

Logic models serve as the basis for many evaluation efforts because they visually demonstrate some of the variables that need to be tracked and analyzed to determine how well you are meeting your anticipated outcomes. Creating a logic model of the program also lets you think through the entire framework at the beginning rather than waiting until the program has been implemented.