What is a logic map?
A logic map - or logic model - is a visual representation
of the relationship between the various components of your program
of work. Traditionally, these components include program inputs,
actions, intermediate goals/objectives, and overall program outcomes.
The structure of the logic map -- that is, the illustrated relationships
between the components -- highlights the "logic" by which you expect
your project to work. Therefore, the logic map is a schematic representation
of your project.
Here's a simplified example of a project logic
Note, if you have Inspiration software,
you can use that program to view and manipulate a
copy of the original Inspiration file for this sample logic
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Why create a logic map?
As professional program evaluators, we have found
that the number one stumbling block projects encounter when setting
out to evaluate their work is a lack of clarity about how planned
or anticipated project activities relate to the fulfillment of
project goals. In other words, it is not possible to evaluate success
if one does not have a clear expectation about what is supposed to
happen...and why. All too often projects seem to be managed as
an act of faith. Participants just
"hope" that with the right combination of resources (e.g.,
funds) and enough hard work, the right things will happen.
Sometimes this works, and it is wonderful when it does; but when
more often something in fact goes wrong, or it turns out that something
about the project could be improved...in these cases, a lack
of program logic means that it is very hard to understand specifically
what to fix or what to improve.
A logic model is intended to provide a provide
a documented "roadmap" that project managers can use to explain
their project's operation. The process of constructing a logic
model will help the project planners (in the proposal-writing stage)
determine if they have created sufficient solutions to address
the needs that are the basis for funding their project. Further,
the logic map can show the purpose of various project-supported
activities in terms of how these activities meet needs and support
Within the context of program evaluation, the logic
model will help the evaluator design meaningful evaluation questions
and subsequently an evaluation framework that provides relevant
information on project progress. By "meaningful" we mean
questions that accurately relate to what the project is all about.
The core concept in program evaluation is probing the validity
of a project's ideological underpinnings (i.e., did the project
do what it set out to do). The logic map helps steer the evaluator
toward an examination of the correct - or meaningful - relationships.
In short, a logic map helps refine a project's
"logic" and then helps explain that logic in a clear, graphical,
manner. The refinement aspect is most beneficial to project planners/managers.
The explanation aspect is of particular benefit to project evaluators
and others who need to understand the success of your project.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the creation
of a graphical map or model is another way that educators can "walk
the talk" about adjusting content for various learning styles or
ways of understanding. We have found that there are many individuals
who can best form an understanding of a project's work when presented
with that information in a graphical, visual, manner. Logic maps
are often the pictures that can paint "a thousand words" about
your project (no doubt a useful concept when considering proposal
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The Process for Creating a Logic Map
There are a number of ways to approach the logic
map creation process, and we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge
that some of our clients have had negative experiences with creating
maps and thus approach the whole process with considerable apprehension.
Often these negative experiences have derived from overly theoretical
or highly academic approaches to the work which result in many
hours of struggling with maps.
We want to take a much more pragmatic approach
to the process which emphasizes (somewhat uncharacteristically
for us) the end results of the work and not the process. Therefore,
our first word of advice is to copy an existing map.
We don't mean that you should copy another map's content (not unless
you are creating an absolutely identical project, which hardly
makes sense), but rather to copy the style of a map that
you find appropriate. In the resources section of this article,
you can find a number of articles about logic map creation. These
all contain sample maps. Likewise, you can simply appropriate the
style of our sample map (here again, the Inspiration file would
be very helpful).
Once you have found an appropriate map upon which
to style or organize your own map, take note of the basic categories
of elements. Here, we will refer to the categories in our sample.
If you use another sample, you will need to cross-walk our categories
to those used in the other sample. This should be relatively straight
forward since all maps contain the same basic elements (just named
or arranged differently). Our categories of elements are:
||These are the various needs
and resources that your project can draw upon as it sets
out to accomplish its work.
||This is what your project intends to do to
address needs and to utilize the available resources. The
key word here is action. These are not your goals,
but rather the actions you will carry out to ultimately accomplish
||Each action has an immediate result.
Often these results alone are not the fulfillment of your
ultimate goals, but are instead steps toward your ultimate
goals. Nevertheless, it turns out that these so-called intermediate
goals very much lend themselves to measurement.
These are the things that you can measurably accomplish in
1 - 3 years. These outcomes are usually perceived as steps
toward achieving your ultimate goals.
|Overall Project Goal(s)
||This category is also sometimes referred
to as "project impact." Simply put, this is what you want
to wind up with when all is said and done in your project.
Here, you should shoot for describing the "big picture" of
your project. It is very likely that you will not be
able to "measure" whatever you place in this final "box"
on your logic map. That is why it is all that much more important
to create measurable intermediate goals in the previous set
So, take your (or our) sample, delete the existing
content, and insert new content that's relevant to your project.
Add or subtract boxes as necessary. There you have it. Well, almost.
The lines or arrows that connect your map's boxes
are significant in that they illustrate the relationship between
elements. This is obvious, but very critical. While everything
may ultimately end up (through the chain of elements) pointing
toward your "overall project goal" it should be clear that not
all inputs are related to every action which is not related to
every intermediate goal. Your arrows need to reflect the most obvious
connections that you create, anticipate, and/or are aware of.
Here are some general tips
on map creation:
Give some thought to what will go in your map before you sit
down to draw it. Use this
to list your project's elements,
proceed to place them onto the map diagram
and connect them all with arrows.
- The philosophy of logic mapping as a process that creates clarity
of purpose for a project's management team dictates that the
mapping exercise takes place in a group. The idea is
that the group creates the map; or at very least the group reviews,
revises, and finalizes a map that the project leader has initially
- While it is certainly not mandatory to use software or any
sort of computer technology to create your map, it is very apparent
that concept mapping software such as Inspiration is ideally
suited for this task. The nice thing about using software for
this task is that it becomes very easy to adjust your map's relationships
many times while forming the map in a group "brainstorming" environment.
Then, when your group is finished, you can simply save the map
and you will have a final product. Further, the use of mapping
software (e.g., Inspiration) vs. drawing software (e.g., the
draw component of MS Word, or PowerPoint) provides many benefits
as far as automatically creating connections, grouping and linking
- Try to make your "overall project goal" a simple, straightforward,
statement. This is your big picture vision or focus. If you find
the need to have two or three "big pictures", then your picture
isn't big enough. Likewise, you cannot logically have "multiple
foci" for your project. Focus = 1. That's where you want to
wind up in that final box.
- Someone always wants to draw arrows that go both ways. Don't
be that person; and if s/he is on your project team, it is
now your job to stop them. The logic map is supposed to show
the logical progression from input to final output. It does
to account for every possible occurrence within your project's
universe of chance. Backward arrows don't help this cause.
- Simplify, simplify, simplify! Resist the urge to make an overly
complex map that connects virtually everything to everything.
You want to strike a balance between a map that is overly simple
(i.e., too few connections) and one which attempts to show the
whole interconnectedness of the universe within which your project
exists. If your map has a scary number of arrows, it's not helping
Once again, a significant part of the value in a logic map is not the
final map product! Rather, the value is in the process that a group
of project participants engage in to create the map. In other words,
the value is in the journey, not the destination.
Still, the final product (the map) does have value as a tool for
those individuals and groups external to your project who subsequently
need to understand how your project works. Specifically, proposals
reviewers can benefit from using your map and project evaluators
can use the map to formulate a framework for project evaluation.
Finally, there will likely be benefit for your project to review
the logic map periodically throughout the project. In this way,
your map can help you determine how close your project work has
stayed to its original plan. Understanding this variance can be
helpful in making formative adjustments and in discovering ways
to sustain your project after its initial funding.
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Logic Mapping Resources, Examples, etc.
In addition to the sample
map and map element worksheet discussed in our text, above, there are a number of other resources
available online that pertain to the concept and practice of logic
mapping. Many of these resources are particularly valuable for
those who seek a more theoretical basis to the the mapping process
or who are working on projects that do not relate directly to K-12
Kellogg Foundation Logic Model Development Guide -- This
62 page guidebook contains a number of worksheets and related
discussion on the process of developing a logic model. The Kellogg
Foundation has created this resource for non-profit organizations
that seek to apply to private foundations for program funding.
You Wanted to Know About Logic Models But Were Afraid to Ask -- Another resource oriented toward non-profit
foundation grant-seekers, this short guide addresses the process
and purpose of logic model creation in a friendly question/answer
Logic Models for Research and Technology Development and Deployment
Programs -- This is a PDF file of a
PowerPoint presentation by Gretchen Jordan at the 2003 American
Evaluation Association Annual Conference. While not targeted specifically
at K-12 education audiences, Dr. Jordan's presentation contains
many sample maps in a variety of different formats.
Innovation Network's Logic Models Bibliography -- The Innovation Network has an excellent Evaluation Resource
Center for non-profit grant-seekers. Registration is required,
but it is free and private.
from Logic Models -- This is a web-based
resource on creating and using logic models within the context
of educational projects/organizations. This site, produced by
Harvard University's Graduate School of Education's Family Research
Project, also contains a variety of other program evaluation resources.
Logic Model Bibliography -- This site,
from the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Extension service,
contains a very complete print bibliography of the academic literature
that supports the concept of logic modeling.
There is also an online bibliography of other web-based logic modeling
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A print version (pdf file) of this article is available.
Page Updated 4/7/04