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Article by Patrick Fiorenza, RMS Director of Research Analytics

Program Evaluation and market research are closely related, some might call them second cousins. Perhaps a better analogy is that they could be siblings, where market research is the rambunctious middle child and program evaluation is the rule-following first child. Working in both fields, there is significant overlap between the two types of research, but at RMS, we know they are both unique and serve different purposes to meet an organizations research objectives.

One of the most important parts of conducting a program evaluation is constructing a logic model. Logic models are critical and often form the basis of a sound program evaluation, particularly with education evaluations. Logic models will help you select the right research method, whether it is surveys, focus groups, interviews, or a combination of approaches. The logic model can more effectively help you assess the two big components of an evaluation:

  • Implementation evaluation: Did your program operate the way you said it would?
  • Impact or outcomes evaluation: Did you achieve what you intended to achieve?

Having a well-defined logic model can help you assess what kinds of tools you can use to address your implementation and impact evaluation. You may need to use qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method approaches. It is common, and most often most productive, to integrate approaches. For example, you may interview business leaders to understand their perceptions of a workforce development program, while a student survey would gather data on how their education meets those perceptions. The student portion could also include information on how their skills changed as well as analyze student performance data from their coursework. Logic models help put all the pieces together so that you have a sound and rigorous evaluation.

Components of a Logic Model

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With a logic model, you are crafting a visual representation of your program. You are laying out the inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes of your program. The point of a logic model is that it needs to be a useful tool for you and your team. The general framework needs to include the following:

  • Inputs/Resources: Resources available to support the program (i.e. staff, finances, grants, funding sources).
  • Activities: What the program does or its processes (similar to a work flow, for example, provides free transportation to a community center)
  • Outputs are what we can count easily (i.e., the number of students served, number of certificates granted)
  • Outcomes: changes in skills, behaviors, dispositions (i.e., extent to which soft skills improved), can be short term, long-term, or distal (for example, eliminate poverty).

When you create a logic model, you can more easily model your research design. You have a clear roadmap of the “it” that you are evaluating. Designing your evaluation plan is no easy task, but a logic model helps you create your plan.

Logic models are a powerful tool for program evaluation. If you need to develop a logic model for your next grant application or want to assess your program efficacy, start by thoroughly understanding your program model and quality research will inevitably follow.

Part 2 coming soon!!

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Relational RMS Blogs:

Understanding Feasibility Studies
Recruiting the Right Participants for Your Focus Groups: Best Practices
Arts Initiative Evaluation—Case Study

About the Author – Patrick Fiorenza

Patrick brings years of market research experience to the RMS Research Analytics team. His preliminary focus encompasses designing, implementing, gathering, and analyzing results from proven research methods created to obtain credible data to help guide decision-making across a variety of industries.

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About RMS

Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) is a full-service market research firm in Central New York. Formed in 2002, RMS helps organizations that are looking to know more about their customers and/or potential customers. They conduct surveys, focus groups, mystery shopping, studies and analysis. Each project is customized and gets personal attention by the best in the business. RMS has a reputation for getting results and offers an independent means to conduct telephone, on-line and mail surveying, In-depth interviews, intercept interviews, and participant recruitment as well as focus group hosting through QualiSight, its onsite call center and focus group facility. Taking advantage of the region’s reputation for being a great market study barometer, RMS recruits and moderates for focus groups, community forums and town meetings.