Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Enhancing Prevention Programs' Credibility through the Use of a Logic Model

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Enhancing Prevention Programs' Credibility through the Use of a Logic Model

Article excerpt

Dear Editor:

As park, recreation and sport management professionals become increasingly involved in youth development, they find themselves operating in a world requiring diverse and complementary program justification. There is an interest to move beyond the provision of facilities and equipment for traditional sports activities to the development of programs that target specific outcomes that benefit youth (Ellis, Braff, & Hutchinson, 2001). Program justification has become essential for credibility. Credibility depends on a sound programming process that clearly establishes a link between theory, the program model and subsequent behavioral changes in participating youth (McKenzie & Smeltzer, 1997). This pendulum shift has presented several challenges to park, recreation and sport management professionals.

While park, recreation and sport professionals are quick to tout the positive impact of their programs for at-risk youth in terms of increased self-esteem, improved school achievement, and better communication skills; however, the actual relationship between recreation and beneficial outcomes has not been adequately explained (Baker & Witt, 2000). Baldwin (2000) stated there has been little discussion of the theoretical foundation of park and recreation programming for at-risk youth, despite the need for scientific rigor to establish the leisure services and sport field's credibility of these programs.

Secondly, most professionals have not been trained in scientific evaluation or have not used their skills in years, consequently have not embraced evaluation as a programming process. These issues are further complicated because the evaluation process in park, recreation and sport often lacks specificity in the selection of possible program outcomes despite recent improvements in program planning. Many programs are dominated by short-term, unstructured activities, such as recreational basketball, that do not focus on behavioral changes. Kleiber (1999) stated that these traditional activities do not provide the "challenge" necessary to promote development in participants.

Recent research reveals that park and recreation practitioners are expressing a desire to understand theory and incorporate it into their programs (McKenzie & Smeltzer, 1999). Practitioners realize that such inclusion provides credence and a rationale for the intervention or program, as well as a foundation for the desired outcome. However, most park and recreation prevention programs have used broad/ vague program objectives, making it difficult to assess specific program outcomes (Baldwin, 2000). Baldwin asserted that identifying the behavioral framework of the recreation program context is particularly challenging for park and recreation professionals.

To advance professional use of evaluation models, the author developed a logic model to systematically illustrate and evaluate the relationship between theories, procedures, programmatic content, evaluation methods, and outcome of a multidisciplinary, community-based prevention project that was designed for "high at-risk" youth. The author hopes that this experience will bridge theory and practice, and assist in advancing funding and collaborative opportunities. While it is not the intent of this communication to report findings of the study, the author does provide general information regarding the results to explain the interrelated components of the model. The project examined the outcomes of recreation and health related activities to improve youth academic standing and reduce youth negative behaviors such as drugs and criminal activities. A multidisciplinary team of educators, prevention professionals, community organizations, college students, and parents undertook the project referred to as Project WISE-UP, which was funded by a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Juvenile Justice and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. …

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