Identify potential weaknesses in the assumptions or areas that may require additional information or clarification.

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In social work practice and in program development, it is possible to make faulty assumptions about what clients need and what social work activities will lead to. Consider the following:

A team of social workers meets to discuss their services to low-income young mothers. One social worker states that what the young mothers need most is information about community resources. She proposes that the social workers’ activities consist of making referrals to programs for public assistance for income support, food stamps, medical insurance, employment agencies, and educational resources. However, another team member points out that most clients are referred to their program from the public welfare office and health care programs. This suggests that the clients tend to possess knowledge of these common resources and have been able to access them.

How might the team explore what problems bring the clients to their agency? What might the team learn from client assessments? How can the team verify the desired outcomes of their services? Developing a logic model will help the team see a logical connection between problems, needs, intervention activities, and corresponding outcomes. This series of logical connections leads to formulating a theory of change, that is, a theory about how our work leads to the outcomes for clients.

To prepare for this Discussion, imagine that you are part of a work group charged with creating a logic model and generating a theory of change. Select a practitioner-level intervention for which you are interested in analyzing connections. Consider how a logic model might be applied to that practice.


Post a logic model and theory of change for a practitioner-level intervention. Describe the types of problems, the client needs, and the underlying causes of problems and unmet needs. Identify the short- and long-term outcomes that you think would represent an improved condition. Then describe interventions that would lead to a change in the presenting conditions. Be sure to search for and cite resources that inform your views.


Respond to at least two colleagues by doing all of the following:

  • Offer critiques of their logic model as if you were a member of their work groups.
    • Identify strengths of the logic models.
    • Identify potential weaknesses in the assumptions or areas that may require additional information or clarification.
  • Offer substantial information to assist your colleagues’ efforts such as:
    • Information to support their understanding of the problems and needs in this population
    • Suggestions related to intervention activities, and potential outcomes

Please use this format when completing discussion:

Post a logic model and theory of change for a practitioner-level intervention. To do so:

Describe the types of problems, the client needs, and the underlying causes of problems and unmet needs.

Your response

Identify the short- and long-term outcomes that you think would represent an improved condition.

Your response

Then describe interventions that would lead to a change in the presenting conditions.

Your response

References (Be sure to search for and cite resources that inform your views).

Your response



Logic Models Karen A. Randolph A logic model is a diagram of the relationship between a need that a program is designed to addret>s and the actions to be taken to address the need and achieve program outcomes. It provides a concise, one-page picture of program operations from beginning to end. The diagram is made up of a series of boxes that represent each of the program’s com ponents, inputs or resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes. The diagram shows how these components are connected or linked to one another for the purpose of achieving program goals. Figure 31.1 provides an example of the framework for a basic logic model. The program connections illustrate the logic of how program operations will result in client change (McLaughlin & Jordan, 1999). The connections show the “causal” relationships between each of the program components and thus are referred to as a series of”ifthen” sequence of changes leading to the intended outcomes for the target client group (Chinman, hum, & Wandersman, 2004). The if-then statements represent a program’s theory of change underlying an intervention. As such, logic models provide a framework that guides the evaluation process by laying out important relationships that need to be tested to demonstrate program results (Watson, 2000). Logic models come from the field of program evaluation. The idea emerged in response to the recognition among program evaluators regarding the need to systematize the program evaluation process (McLaughlin & Jordan, 2004). Since then, logic models have become increasingly popular among program managers for program planning and to monitor program performance. With a growing emphasis on accountability and outcome measurement, logic models make explicit the entire change process, Lhe assumptions t hat underlie this process, and the pathways to reach ing outcomes. Researchers have begun to use logic models for intervention research planning (e.g., Brown, Hawkins, Arthur, Briney, & Abbott, 2007). The following sections provide a description of the components of a basic logic model and how these components are linked together, its relationship to a p rogram’s theory of Figure 31.1 Logic Model [ : Inputs 1–_.,•1 ,II- .Outputs ·11- Outcomes I AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author wishes to acknowledge Dr. Tony Tripodi for his thoughlful comments on a drafl of this chapter. 547 548 PART V • CONCEPTUAL RESEARCH change, and its uses and benefits. The steps for creating a logic model as well as the challenges of the logic modeling process will be presented. The chapter concludes with an example of how a logic model was to enhance program outcomes for a family literacy program. Components of a Logic Model Typically, a logic model has four components: inputs or resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes. Outcomes can be further classified into short-term outcomes, intermediate outcomes, and long-term outcomes based on the length of time it takes to reach these outcomes (McLa ughlin & Jordan, 2004) . The components make up the connection between the planned work and the intended results (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004). The planned work includes the resources (the inputs) needed to implement the program as well as how the resources will be used (the activities). The intended results include the outputs and outcomes that occur as a consequence of the planned work. Figure 31.2 expands on the model illuslrated in Figure 3 1.1 by adding examples of each component. This particular logic model, adopted from frechtling (2007), provides an illustration of the components of an intervention designed to prevent substance abuse and other problem behaviors among a population of youth. The intervention is targeted toward improving parenting skills, based on the assumption that positive parenting leads to prosocial behaviors among youth {Bahr, Hoffman, & Yang, 2005). The following section provides definitions and examples of each logic model component, using this illustration. Resources Resources, sometimes referred to as inputs, include the human, fin ancial, organizational, and community assets that are available to a program to achieve its objectives (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004). Resources are used to support and facilitate the program activities. They are usually categorized in terms of funding resou rces or in-kind contributions (Frechtling, 2007) . Some resources, such as laws, regulations, and funding requirements, are external to the agency (United Way of America, 1996). Other resources, such as staff and money, are easier lo quantify than others (e.g., community awareness of the program; Mertinko, Novotney, Baker, & Lange, 2000). As Fn.:c:htli ng (2007) notes, it is important to clearly and thoroughly identify the available resources during the logic modeling process because this information defines the scope and parameters of the program. Also, this inCormation is critical for others who may be interested in replicating the program. The logic model in Figure 31.2 includes fu nding as one of its resources. Activities Activities represent a program’s service methodology, showing how a program intends on using the resources described previously to carry out its work. Activities are also referred to as action step!; (McLaughlin & Jordan, 2004). They are the highly specific tasks that p rogram staffs engage in on a daily basis to provide services to clients (Mertinko et al., 2000) . They include all aspects of program implementation, the processes, tools, events, technology, and program actions. The activities form the foundation toward facilitating intended client changes or reaching oulcornes (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004). Some examples are establishing community councils, providing professional development training, or initiating a media campaign (Frechtling, 2007). Other examples are CHAPTER Inputs Activities Outputs l OCIC MO DELS 549 Outcomes Short Term Feedback Loop 31 • Intermediate Long Term j _J I I Funds Develop and initiate Number of -.:::c -campatgn r– J / Develop and distribute fact sheets Figure 31.2 – 1> Increased Decreased Increased awareness youth positive 1—–+ of positive f substance parenting parenting – I Number of Increased fact sheets 1 – enrollment distributed in parenting programs Example of l ogic Model With Components, Two Types of Connections, and a Feedbaclc loop providing shelter for homeless families, educating the public about signs of child abuse, or providing adult mentors for youlh {United Way of America, 1996). Two activities, “Develop and initiate media campaign” and “Develop and distribute fact sheets;’ are included in the logic model in Figure 31.2. Activities lead to or produce the program outputs, described in the following section. Outputs The planned works (resources and activities) bring about a program’s desired resul ts, including outputs and outcomes (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004) . Outputs, also referred to as units of service, are the immediate results of program activities in the form of types, levels, and targets of services to be delivered by the program (McLaughlin & Jordan , 1999). They are tangible products, events, or serv ices. They provide the documentation that activities have been implemented and, as such, indicate if a program was delivered to the intended audience at the intended dose (W. K. Kellogg FounJation, 2004). Outputs arc typically described in terms of th e size and/or scope of the services and products produced by the program and thus are expressed numerically (Frechtling, 2007). Examples of program outputs include the number of classes taught, meetings held, or materials p roduced and distributed; program par ticipation rates and demography; or hours of each type of service provided (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004). Other examples are the number of meals provided, classes taught, brochures distributed, or participants ser ved (Frecht1ing, 2007) . While outputs have little inherent value in themselves, they provide the link between a program’s activities and a program’s outcomes (United Way of America, 1996). The logic model in Figure 31.2 includes Lhc number of stations adopting the media campaign and the number of fact sheets distributed as two outputs for the prevention program. 550 PART V • CONCEPTUAL RESEARCH Outcomes Outcomes arc Lhe specific changes experienced by the program’s clients or target group as a consequence of participating in the program. Outcomes occur as a result of the program activities and outputs. These changes may be in behaviors, attitudes, skill level, status, or level of functioning (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004). Examples include increased knowledge of nutritional needs, improved reading skills, more effective responses to conflict, and finding employment (United Way of America, 1996). Outcomes are indicalors of a program’s level of success. McLaughlin and Jordan (2004) make the point that some programs have multiple, sequential outcome structures in the form of short-term outcomes, intermediate outcomes, and long-term outcomes. In these cases, each type of outcome is linked temporally. Short-term outcomes arc client changes or benefits th at are most immediately associated with the program’s outputs. They are usually realized by clients within 1 to 3 years of program completion. Short-term outcomes are linked to accomplishing intermediate outcomes. Intermediate outcomes are generally attainable in 4 to 6 years. Longterm outcomes are also referred to as program impacts or program goals. They occur as a result of the intermediate outcomes, usually within 7 to 10 years. In this format, longterm outcomes or goals are directed at macro-level change and target organizations, communities, or systems (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004). As an example, a sequen tial outcome structure with short- term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes for the prevention program is displayed in Figure 31.2. As a result of hearing the public service announ cements about positive parenting (the activity), parents enroll in parenting programs to learn new parenting skills (the short-term outcome). Then they apply these newly learned skills with their children (the intermediate outcome), which leads to a reduction in substance abuse among youth (the long-term impact or goal the parenting program was designed to achieve). Outcomes are often confused with outputs in logic models because their correct classification depends on the context within which they are being included. A good example of this potential confusion, provided in the United Way of America manual ( 1996, p. 19), is as follows. The number of clients served is an output when it is meant to describe the volume of work accomplished. In this case, it does not relate directly to client changes or benefits. However, the number of clients served is considered to be an outcome when the program’s intention is to encourage clients to seek services, such as alcohol treatment. What is important to remember is that outcomes describe intended client changes or benefits as a result of participatin g in the program while outputs document products or services produced as a result of activities. Links or Connections Between Components A critical part of a logic model is the connections or links between the components. The connections illustrate the relationships between the components and the process by which change is hypothesized to occur among program participants. This is referred to as the program theory (Frechtling, 2007). It is the connections illustrating the program’s theory of change that make the logic model complicated. Specifying the connections is one of the more difficult aspects of developing a logic model because the process requires predicting the process by which client change is expected to occur as a result of program participation (Frechtling, 2007). CHIII’TER 31 • lOGIC M ODtLS 551 Frechtling (2007) describes nvo types of connections in a logic model: connections that link items within each component and connections that illustrate the program’s theory of change. The first type, items within a component, is connected by a straight line. This line shows that the items make up a particularcomponent.As an example, in Figure 31.2, nvo activities, “Develop and initiate media campaign” and “Develop and distribute fact sheets,” are linked together with a straight line because they represent the items within the activities component. Similarly, two outputs, “Number of stations adopting the campaign” and “Number of fact sheets distributed;’ arc connected as two items within the outputs component. The second type of connection sh<.>ws how the components interact with or relate to each other to reach expected outcomes (Frechtling, 2007) . In essence, this is the program’s theory of change. Thus, instead of straight lines, arrows are used to show the direction of influence. Frechtling (2007) clarifies that “these directional connections are not just a kind of glue anchoring the otherwise floating boxes. Rather they portray the changes thaL arc expected to occur after a previous acLivity has taken place, and as a result of it” (p. 33). She points out that the primary purpose of the evaluation is to determine the nature of the relationships between components (i.e., whether the predictions are correct). A logic model that illustrates a fully developed theory of change includes links between every item in each component. In other words, every item in every component must be connected to at least one item in a subsequent component. This is illustrated in Figure 3 1.2, which shows that each of the two items within the activities component is linked to an item within the output component. Figure 31.2 provides an example of the predicted relationships between the components. This is the program theory about how the target group is expected to change. The input or resource, funding, is connected to the tv,ro activities, “Develop and initiate media campaign” and “Develop and distribute fac t sheets.” Simply put, this part of Figure 31 .2 shows that funding will be used to support the development and initiation of PSA campaigns and the distribution of fact sheets. The sequencing of the connections between components also shows that these steps occur over a period of time. While this may seem obvious and relatively inconsequential, specifying an accurate sequence has time-based implications, particularly when shortterm, intermediate, and long-term outcomes are proposed as a part of the theory of change (Frechtling, 2007). Rcca11 that the short-term outcomes lead to achieving the intermediate outcomes, and the intermediate outcomes lead to achieving long-term outcomes. Thus, the belief or underl}ing assumption is that short-term outcomes mediate (or come between) relationships benv-een activities and intermediate outcomes, and intermediate outcomes mediate relations between short-term and long-term outcomes. Related, sometimes logic models display feedback loops. Feedback loops show how the information gained from implementing one item can be used to refine and improve other items (Frechlling, 2007). f or instance, in Figure 31.2, the feedback loop from the shortterm outcome, “Increased awareness of positive parenting;’ back to the activity, “Develop and initiate media campaign;’ indicates that the findings for “Increased awareness of positive parenting” arc used to improve the PSA campaigns in the next program cycle. Contextual Factors Logic models describe programs that exist and are affected by contextual factors in the larger environment. Contextual factors are those important features of the environment 552 PART V • CONCEPTUAL R ESEARCH in which the project or inter vention takes place. They include the social, cultural, and political aspects of the environment (Frechtling, 2007). They are typically not under the program’s control yet are likely to influence the program either positively or negatively (McLaughlin & Jordan, 2004). Thus, it is critical to identify relevant contextual factors and to consider their potential impact on the program. McLaughlin and Jordan (1999) point out that understanding and articulating contextual factors co ntribu tes to an understanding of the fo undation upon which performance expectatio ns are established. Moreover, this knowledge h elps to establish the parameters for explaining program results and developing program improvement strategies that are li kely to be more meaningful and thus more successful because the information is more complete. finally, contextual factors clarify situations under which the program results might be expected to generalize and the issues that might affect replication (Frechtling, 2007) . Harrell, Burt, Hatry, Rossm an, and Roth (1996) identify two types of contextual factors, antecedent and media6ng, as outside facto rs that could influence the program’s design, implementation, and results. Antecedent factors are those that exist prior to program implementation, such as characteristics of the client target population or community characteristics such as geographical and economic conditions. Mediating factors are the environmental influences that emerge as the program unfolds, such as new laws and policies, a change in economic conditions, or the startup of other new programs providing similar services (McLaughlin & jordan, 2004). Logic Models and a Program’s Theory of Change Definition Logic models p rovide an illustration of the components of a program’s theot-y and how those components are linked togeth er. Program theory is defined as “a plausible and sensible model of how a program is supposed to work” (Bickman, 1987, p. 5). Program theory incorporates “program resources, program activities, and intended program outcomes, and specifies a chain of causal assumptions linking resources, activities, intermediate outcomes, and ultimate goals” (Wholey, 1987, p. 78). Program theory e.>..-plicates the assumptions about how the program components link together from program star t to goal attainment to realize the program’s intended outcomes (Frechtling, 2007). Thus, it is often referred to as a program’s theory of change. Frechtling (2007) suggests that both previous research and knowledge gained from practice experience arc useful in developing a theory of change. Relationship to logic Models A logic model provides an illustration of a program’s theory of change. It is a useful tool for describing program theory because it shows the connections or if-then relationships between program components. In other words, moving from left to right from one component to the next, logic models provide a diagram of the rationale or reasoning underlying the theory of change. If-th en statements connect the program’s components to form the theory of change (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004). For example, certain resources or inputs are needed to carry out a program’s activities. The first if-then statement links resources to activities and is stated, “If you have access to these resources, then you can use them to accomplish your planned activities” (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004, p. 3). Each CHAPTER 31 • LOCIC MODELS SS3 component in a logic model is linked to the other components using if-then statemen ts to show a program’s chain of reasoning about how client change is predicted to occur. The idea is that “if the right resources are transformed into the right activities for the right people, then these will lead to the results the program was designed to achieve” (McLaughlin & Jordan, 2004, p. 11). It is important to define the components of an intervention and make the connections between them explicit (Frechtling, 2007). Program Theory and Evaluation Planning Chen and Rossi (1983) were among th e first to suggest a program theory-driven approach to evaluation. A program’s theory of change has signi …
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