A logic model is a conceptual tool for planning and evaluation which displays the sequence of actions that describes what the science-based program is and will do. A logic model:
- Clarifies the linkages between investments and activities, outputs and expected outcomes of the policy, program or initiative;
- Communicates externally about the rationale, activities and expected results of the policy, program or initiative;
- Tests whether the policy, program or initiative "makes sense" from a logical perspective; and
- Provides the fundamental framework on which the performance measurement and evaluation strategies are based (i.e., determining what would constitute success).
There are many variations on the specific composition of a logic model. For its purposes, NIFA has developed a generic logic model that includes the following components:
- Situation – A description of the challenge or opportunity. The problem or issue to be addressed, within a complex of socio-political, environmental, and economic conditions.
- Inputs – What is invested, such as resources, contributions, and investments that are provided for the program.
- Activities - Activities are what the program does with its inputs to services it provides to fulfill its mission.
- Outputs - Products, services and events that are intended to lead to the program's outcomes.
- Outcomes - Planned results or changes for individuals, groups, communities, organizations or systems. Types of outcomes include:
- Change in knowledge – Occurs when there is a change in knowledge or the participants actually learn.
- Change in behavior – Occurs when there is a change in behavior or the participants act upon what they have learned.
- Change in condition – Occurs when a societal condition is improved.
- External factors – Variables that may have an effect on the portfolio, program, or project but which cannot be changed by the managers of the portfolio, program, or project.
- Assumptions – The premises based on theory, research, evaluation knowledge, etc. that support the relationships of the elements of the logic model and upon which the success of the portfolio, program, or project rests.