Vocabulary. Jargon. Semantics. Sometimes I think it’s the death of us all. Seriously, it’s really hard to have a conversation about anything when you use the same words in the same context to mean completely different things.
Take Goals and Objectives. I can’t tell you how many different ways this has been taught to me. But in general all the explanations agree that a goal is a big concept, and an objective is more specific.
Things get complicated when we use words like Activities, Outcomes, and Measurable Objectives when teaching you about logic models as a way of planning a project. Which of those words correlate with Goals and Objectives when writing a proposal for the project you just planned?
I’m going to walk through an example of how we can connect the dots between the logic model that we use to plan projects, and the terminology used in proposal writing. There isn’t necessarily going to be a one to one relationship, and it might depend on the number of goals you have.
As has been stated in previous posts, we’ve never actually done any work with the fictional community of Sunnydale, a place where there was, in the past, a large number of vampires and other assorted demons. But in order to work through this problem, let’s go back to this hypothetical post where we used the Kirkpatrick Model to determine outcomes that we would like to see with any remaining vampires who want to live healthy long lives, and get along with their human neighbors. For this post, I’m going to pretend I’m writing a proposal to do a training project for them based on those outcomes, and then show how they lead to an evaluation plan.
The goal can be your long-term outcome or it can be somewhat separate from the outcomes. But either way, your goal needs to be logically connected to the work you’re planning to do. For example, if you’re going to train vampires to use MedlinePlus, goals like “making the world a better place,” or “achieving world peace,” are not as connected to your project as something like “improving health and well being of vampires” or “improving the health-literacy of vampires so they can make good decisions about their health.”
Here is a logic model showing how this could be laid out, using the outcomes established in the earlier post:
Keep in mind that the purpose of a proposal is to persuade someone to fund your project. So for the sake of my proposal, I’m going to combine the long-term outcomes into one goal statement.
The goal of this project is to improve the health and well being of vampires in the Sunnydale community.
The objectives can be taken from the logic model Activities column. But keep something in mind. Logic models are small – one page at most. So you can’t use a lot of words to describe activities. Objectives on the other hand are activities with some detail filled in. So in the logic model the activity might be “Evening hands-on training on MedlinePlus and PubMed,” while the objective I put in my proposal might be “Objective 1: We will teach 4 hands-on evening classes on the use of MedlinePlus and PubMed to improve Sunnydale vampires’ ability to find consumer health information and up to date research.”
Objectives in Context
Here’s a sample of my Executive Summary of the project, showing goals, objectives, and outcomes in a narrative format:
Executive Summary: The goal of our From Dusk to Dawn project is to improve the health and well being of vampires in the Sunnydale community. In order to reach this goal, we will 1) teach 4 hands-on evening classes on the use of MedlinePlus and PubMed to improve Sunnydale vampires’ ability to find consumer health information and up to date research about health conditions; and 2) open a 12-hour “Dusk-to-Dawn” health reference hotline to help the vampires with their reference questions. With these activities, we hope to see a) increased ability of the Internet-using Sunnydale vampires to research needed health information; b) that those vampires will use their increased skills to research health information for their brood; and c) these vampires will use this information to make good health decisions leading to improved health, and as a result form better relationships with the human community of Sunnydale.
Please note that in this executive summary, I do not use the word “objectives” to identify the phrases numbered 1 and 2, and I also do not use the word “outcomes” to identify the phrases lettered a, b, and c (because I like the way it reads better without them). However, in detailed narrative of my proposal I would use those terms to go with those exact phrases.
So then, what are Measurable Objectives?
The key to the evaluation plan is creating another kind of objective: what we call a measurable outcome objective. When you create your evaluation plan, along with showing how you plan to measure that you did what you said you would do (process assessment), you will also want to plan how to collect data showing the degree to which you have reached your outcomes (outcome assessment). These statements are what we call measurable outcome objectives.
Using the “Book 2 Worksheet: Outcome Objectives” found on our Evaluation Resources web page, you start with your outcomes, add an indicator, target and time frame to get measurable objectives and write it in a single sentence. Here’s an example of what that would look like using the first outcome listed in the Executive Summary:
We’ve gotten through some terminology and some steps for going from your logic model to measuring your outcomes.
Stay tuned for next week when we turn all of this into an Evaluation Plan!
Dare I say it? Same bat time, same bat channel…