Program Planning and Reporting & CNE Logic Model
Planning and accountability are central to effective program management in the Land-Grant University System. Rising obesity rates and other nutrition/health trends, combined with concerns about Extension's ability to assess the effectiveness of nutrition programs that address these trends, prompted NIFA and Cooperative Extension Service directors and administrators in 2000 to support the development of a program management and reporting system for community nutrition education. This system had to be flexible enough to meet specific state needs, yet consistent enough to give national understanding of program accomplishments and action needed for impactful and cost-effective nutrition education.
Of several theories and models explored, the logic model approach was identified as best for addressing this system-wide need. Logic models provide a basic framework for evaluation, using a graphic representation to illustrate a program's theory of change, or how day-to-day activities connect with desired program outcomes. Similar to flow-charts, logic models use boxes with connecting arrows to show relationships between program costs, activities conducted, participants involved, and results achieved.
Development and Testing of the CNE Logic Model
Creation of the Community Nutrition Education (CNE) Logic Model has been a dynamic process, with experienced researchers, evaluators, and program managers developing and refining the model based on literature reviews, stakeholder input, and analysis of state data gathered for pilot and national testing.
SNAP-Ed was identified as a prototype in developing and testing this model for community nutrition education programs. Given its grass roots emergence, rapid growth, complex delivery and funding structures, and variability in impact evaluation methods, SNAP-Ed seemed ideal for examining the ability of the model to inform multiple stakeholders, guide program planning, focus evaluation efforts, and identify pertinent researchable questions.
Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models,a web-based training course on the use of logic models, was created in 2002 by the University of Wisconsin extension in conjunction with development of the CNE Logic Model. Further refinement led to a second version of the model and development of a corresponding online program management/reporting system. The CNE Logic Model, Version 2 can be viewed as an overview graphic (PDF) or with its accompanying detail, Full-logic model 2006 (PDF).
Further details on development and testing of the CNE Logic Model are described in CNE Logic Model Backgrounder: Development and Testing.
Description of the CNE Logic Model
The CNE Logic Model applies a socio-ecological approach to support a broad continuum of intervention strategies and outcomes over time. The three levels of intervention are: individual, family, or household level; institution, organization, or community level; and social structure/policy level. Outcomes are reported as: short-term, where knowledge is gained and/or skills are developed; medium term, where behaviors have been adopted; and, long term, where health, financial, and/or social conditions have changed.
In addition, this model is designed to:
- reflect performance based budgeting – what comes from the investment made;
- be theory driven, using a socio-ecological approach;
- be politically astute, respecting the voices and understanding the pressures upon all sources of financial and other types of support (e.g. FNS, other federal agencies, universities, state and local partners);
- be comprehensive, clear and easy to understand after training;
- be helpful to universities and the federal government – serving both state and national interests;
- and keep program managers focused on the ultimate goal, to “provide educational programs and social marketing activities that increase the likelihood of people making healthy food choices consistent with the most recent dietary advice as reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Food Guidance System with special attention to people with limited budget.”
Applying the Model
This model was used to report on SNAP-Ed within NIFA's 2001-2004 portfolio, and has been included in strategic planning discussions within the NIFA Families, 4-H, and Nutrition Unit.
Testing of the CNE Logic Model, Version 2 and its corresponding online program management/reporting system is underway. Data gathered will be used in a second national report for the land-grant university/extension community and to provide information to states for program planning.
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