Logic models can be a helpful tool for formulating and assessing a wide array of programs. In particular, they may be of use for both creating and evaluating human and social services programs. In this discussion, some of how logic models can help with assessing such problems are considered. Also, it is discussed which approach to creating logic models (formulating them with “an end in mind” or “thinking backward”) is better for human and social services programs.
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The usefulness of Logic Models for Evaluating Human and Social Services Programs
Logic models can be useful for evaluating both human and social services programs. There are at least two ways how they can be useful. First, because they allow for clearly identifying the elements of a program, the required actions, and the outcomes of each of these actions (Csiernik, Chaulk, McQuaid, & McKeon, 2015; Innovation Network, n.d.), they can assist in assessing what resources are needed for a particular task, and therefore they can help understand what parts of the program can be achieved, and what parts cannot be done, thus permitting for a more efficacious distribution of resources.
Second, logic models can also help with ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of a program (Frye & Hemmer, 2012; Savaya & Waysman, 2005). This is important, for program evaluation is often done afterward only, whereas ongoing assessment can assist with determining a program’s most useful and useless elements, thus aiding with improving a program while it is still in progress (Csiernik et al., 2015). These benefits are paramount in human and social services programs, for these programs are often costly, lengthy, and many people’s lives and well-being may depend on them. Also, because complexity is often a feature of human and social services programs, a tool for analyzing and evaluating them is crucial.
Choosing the Best Approach to Create Logic Models for Human and Social Services Programs
There are two main ways to create logic models: a) create them with “an end in mind,” starting with the available resources and deciding what to do next, or b) make them while “thinking backward,” first considering the desired goals and then choosing methods to achieve them; however, it might be possible that one of these approaches is better for human and social services programs. Creating a program with an “end in mind” appears more realistic, because it lets one see what is available to them, possibly–what resources can also be gained, and then to set goals that can be achieved in a current situation.
However, perhaps this approach is better to be used in situations where one could not hope to gain much more resources than they already possess, so they have to be “strictly realistic”; for instance, when one develops a model for purchasing a home for oneself (Innovation Network, n.d., p. 1). Nevertheless, such an approach can “reflect a natural tendency to limit one’s thinking to existing activities, programs, and research questions” (McCawley, n.d., p. 2), whereas in human and social services programs, there often might be an opportunity to e.g. gain more resources–for instance, to raise more funds, providing that the goals are worthy, and the potential sponsors can be convinced that the program is likely to be effective–for which purpose a logic model can also be useful (Innovation Network, n.d.). Therefore, it appears that it is better to make logic models for human and social services programs using the “thinking backward” approach, i.e. first formulating the desired goals and then looking for ways to reach them.
Therefore, logic models can be useful in understanding which elements of a program can be achieved, and which ones cannot; they also may help with ongoing assessment of a program. This is paramount for human and social services programs, for these are often costly and influence many people. Also, it might be better to create logic models for such programs using the “thinking backward” approach, for it may allow for better using the potential opportunities to gain additional resources for a program.
Csiernik, R., Chaulk, P., McQuaid, S., & McKeon, K. (2015). Applying the logic model process to employee assistance programming. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 30(3), 306-323.
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Frye, A. W., & Hemmer, P. A. (2012). Program evaluation models and related theories: AMEE Guide No. 67. Medical Teacher, 34(5), e288-e299.
Innovation Network. (n.d.). Logic model workbook.
McCawley, P. F. (n.d.). The logic model for program planning and evaluation. Web.
Savaya, R., & Waysman, M. (2005). The logic model: A tool for incorporating theory in development and evaluation of programs. Administration in Social Work, 29(2), 85-104.