What is our program or project trying to do?
Before conducting the evaluation, it is useful to identify the theory behind why the program should produce the intended outcomes. The logic prediction about how the program’s activities and resources are intended to lead to the organization’s outcomes and impact is called a logic model (sometimes referred to as a theory of change). A logic model usually is a visual representation of the relationships between the resources invested, the activities that take place, and the benefits or changes that result. The logic model depicts the programming process in graphical form to help clarify what activities should be implemented to promote the financial education outcomes as intended. The following section discusses the application of the logic model in the financial education programming process.
As depicted in the table below, logic models traditionally have several components. At the start of the model are the resources, or inputs, needed for effective implementation of the financial education program. If the logic model is sound and the necessary resources are available, then financial educators should be able to develop and deliver educational programs in the intended way. These resources are linked to the primary activities that make up the intervention itself. Then, if planned activities are delivered, outputs are used to count the direct and immediate results of implementation. If the output is created, then there is a great potential to benefit the target participants. The benefits derived by the target participants from the program or intervention are called outcomes. It is essential that the logic model depicts the relationships between the activities implemented and the outcomes of interest because this helps to determine which components of the program or activities are intended to lead to which specific participant outcomes. Appendix B provides a simple template worksheet for starting the logic model process. It is important to remember that logic models are changeable, meaning that they can be revised or edited with additions or changes to the program or intervention. The logic model is never set in stone, but rather should be revised along with the program or intervention, and as a result of evaluation findings.
Logic Model Components and Financial Education Examples
|Resources necessary to put toward goals and support activities
||Actions/tasks by the program and its staff, services provided
||Direct, tangible products of activities or services
||Changes in participants that result from program activities, expressed as short-term, intermediate, long-term
- Financial education classes/lessons
- Financial education activities
- Educational materials development
- Modules covered
- Classes held
- Participants reached
- Hours of services
Logic models inform the evaluation process by providing guidance about appropriate outcomes, outputs, and indicators of high-quality activities. In addition, the logic model is useful when interpreting evaluation findings, particularly negative findings.
If the program or intervention is not successful, the logic model can provide some explanation for why the program did not work by helping to determine which activities were not implemented with sufficient quality or duration, or which resources were inadequate. Logic models also are useful for planning and designing financial education programs to achieve desired impacts. By creating a visual model of the intended program, the educator identifies which activities are most integral to producing outcomes and which resources are necessary for implementing high-quality activities.
Creating a logic model, particularly in conjunction with the evaluation team or in collaboration with project stakeholders, can clarify the core reasons and ingredients for producing program impact, and create a shared understanding of the program’s goals and strategies.