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Continuing with your framework

In this activity you have been introduced to evaluation frameworks, and learnt how these frameworks can be used to provide structure to evaluation.
Partial image of a stopwatch with Time To Evaluate written on it.

In the previous step, we focused on getting the “when” right, gaining a good understanding of the “why”, and planning to involve the right “who”.

Now we move on to focus on the model, defining the key research questions, and outlining the data or “measures of success” you will need to track progress and answer research questions.

Step 3: The Logic Model 

Step 3 is to develop the logic model, articulating how the different aspects of a project have been planned to make a difference, and creating a canvas onto which progress can be plotted. 

  • Resources/Inputs: some inputs are obvious – like funding or spaces – others, less so. Think about what’s important to the evaluation: what might have a significant impact, is an unusual ingredient, etc.
  • Activities: list all the planned activities – don’t forget to include “backoffice” as well as creative and participatory activities. Again, if there are a lot, focus on the most important activities for your research questions.
  • Outputs: these are the simple “facts” about what happens – in terms of numbers, profiles, etc. they tell the story of what was produced. Output measures do not address the value or impact of your services. Start with targets/expectations and add in what happens over time.
  • Outcomes/Impacts: the changes made by the project. These could relate to any stakeholder at an individual or collective/community level – emotional, learning, social, economic, practice-based, etc. Depending on the nature of the project, it might be useful to think about two levels of outcome: immediate impacts and longer-term change.

Complex projects – like a festival or season – with many different activities can be broken into components, each with their own mini logic model, nested or linked together.

Take a look at this example (view PDF version): 

A 5- step framework. Full description linked below

Click here to zoom the image 

View accessible description

Step 4: Setting research questions – what do you want to learn?

Thinking through the logic of the project will help you define the key research questions that the evaluation is trying to answer. 

Commonly, evaluators are interested in:

  • capturing social, financial and/or cultural value;
  • assessing whether or not a programme has met certain pre-set goals; and/or discovering unexpected outcomes and impacts;
  • understanding what has worked or not worked in terms of activities, process, understanding return on investment – what resources it took to produce programme results;
  • how to improve in future – greater/better impact, more efficiency;
  • what has been learnt/what new knowledge and insight has been gained.

Chances are, you are interested in some or all of these, but you and your stakeholders might be more interested in learning about certain aspects of the programme rather than others. Prioritising key research questions will help keep you on track and will inform how you focus resources. For example, you may chose to spend more time and effort on new, lesser-understood activities and their impacts. It will also help you to decide what evidence must be collected, especially if resources are tight.

Step 5: What evidence will you need?

Finally, outline the evidence, data or “measures of success” you will need to track progress and answer research questions. This will help you devise a research method and data collection plan, which you will learn more about in Week 2.

Review and comment

Take a look at the fictionalised worked example (shown above and PDF available in Downloads below). 
  • How could you improve it? 
  • What other ideas and suggestions could you add? 
  • What other questions does it prompt?
Share and discuss your thoughts with other learners in the Comments section. Try to respond to at least two other posts made by your peers.
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Evaluation for Arts, Culture, and Heritage: Principles and Practice

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