3.3: If-then relationships

People often talk about logic models talk as a series of “if-then” sequences. Reading from left to right, a logic model portrays a series of if-then relationships. If “x”, then “y”. If “y”, then “z”. Play the video to see how this works.

These “if-then” relationships may seem too simple and linear for the complex programs and environments in which we work.

This graphic depicts the series of if-then relationships portrayed by a basic logic model. The relationships are depicted by a series of boxes under each main section of the logic model (Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes) with arrows in between; above the boxes and arrows are the words "If" and "Then" showing the logical flow. The box under Inputs is labeled "Resources," the boxes under Outputs are labeled "Activities" and "Participation," and the boxes under Outcomes are labeled "Outcomes," "Outcomes," and "Impact."

Under the Inputs section the logical relationship is:
If we have resources, then we can conduct activities.

Under the Outputs section the logical relationships are:
If we conduct activities, then we reach participants;
if we reach participants, then we can achieve short-term outcomes.

Under the Outcomes section the logical relationships are:
If we achieve short-term outcomes, then we can achieve medium-term outcomes;
if we achieve medium-term outcomes, then we can expect final impact to occur.

However, we find that in working out these sequences, we uncover gaps in logic, clarify assumptions, and more clearly understand how investments are likely to lead to results.

Where we have sound research, the if-then relationships are clear and strong. Often, however, we work in situations, and with issues and audiences, where the research base is not well developed. It is your “theory” or “theories” – the explanation that links program inputs with activities to outcomes – the chain of response – that leads to ultimate, end results.

Instructional Module: Example

If we have necessary resources (money, Web technology expertise, content expertise), then we can design and deliver a Web-based instructional module appropriate for our educators. If we design and deliver this instructional module, then our educators will access it and learn about and develop skills in logic models. If the educators acquire this knowledge and skill development, then they will use logic models in their programming. If the educators use logic models in their programming, then programming will be improved and evaluation resources will be used wisely.

Family Support Initiative: Example

If the program invests time and money, then a resource inventory can be developed. If there is a resource inventory, then families will know what resources and services are available. If families know, then they will be able to access the appropriate services to meet their needs. If families access the appropriate services, then the needs of the families will be met.
  • There is the assumption that a resource inventory is linked to improvement in client well-being and that the program will have the necessary time, money, and expertise to develop the resource inventory.
  • There is the assumption that once the resource inventory is developed, people will use it, particularly the identified target group.
  • There is the assumption that once accessed, the service will, in fact, meet the client’s need.
  • Also, there is the underlying assumption that interagency coordination will make a difference relative to these families’ needs.

When developing a logic model, think about the underlying assumptions. Are they realistic and sound? What evidence or research do you have to support your assumptions?

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