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Why Build a Logic Model?

April 24, 2018

SRI International
   Kerry Friedman, REL Appalachia

Have you ever worked on a collaborative program, project, partnership, or initiative and wondered...

  • Where are we going with this?
  • How will we get there?
  • What will tell us that we have arrived?

A logic model can help you answer these questions! Think of a logic model as a road map to identify your destination, determine pathways toward that destination, and provide signs that you are staying on track.

Elements of a Logic Model

Formally, a logic model is a graphic representation of the relationships among program inputs, strategies/activities, and outcomes/impacts that address an overarching problem.

Elements of a logic model

Logic models typically include the following elements:

  • Problem statement. The problem or challenge the program is designed to address.
  • Inputs. Resources, including both the material and the intangible contributions that are or could reasonably be expected to be available to address the problem.
  • Strategies. The program components or cluster of activities that you expect to lead to the outcomes you're hoping to achieve. The activities include programs and services, events, products, etc., designed to achieve the outcomes.
  • Outcomes and impacts. The difference that the resources combined with the resulting strategies should produce. Outcomes and impacts usually come in stages and fall along a continuum from short to long term.
  • Assumptions. Beliefs about participants, staff, and the program, as well as about how change or improvement may be realized and the context for program implementation.

Benefits of a Logic Model

"Building a partnership logic model was a challenging but good process. It forced us to bring together people from higher education and K–12 and to see things from different perspectives. The logic model helped us focus our work so that it addressed cross-sector concerns. We were able to have a more nuanced view of the effort and see how our work fit together."

Improving Postsecondary
    Transitions partnership member

Logic models can support research-practitioner partnerships' initiatives by helping to establish shared goals, strategies, and metrics. Over the past year, REL Appalachia partnerships created logic models to guide their work. Partnerships developed these logic models through multiple interactive workshops that allowed members to work collaboratively and iteratively. Partnership members reported many benefits to the process, including:

  • Helping members define a common understanding of the partnership goals and activities.
  • Identifying indicators of success in the short and long term.
  • Determining areas where research or technical support is needed.
  • Supporting future efforts to evaluate the partnership.
  • Communicating about the partnership to external stakeholders concisely.
Establishing a logic model for partnership activities can also help diverse organizations leverage existing but distributed resources on common problems of practice or policy that, if solved, have the potential to make a substantial difference for students.

Examples and Resources

If you're just getting started, it's good to see a few examples. View our partnership logic models:

The Regional Educational Laboratories offer several useful resources for building logic models: