Bennett’s Hierarchy is a type of logic model tailored for programs that provide information or education. Most of us are familiar with the Kellogg logic model which has buckets for inputs, activities, outputs, short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes. Bennett’s Hierarchy provides more specialized terminology for educational programs. If you’ve ever heard of “KASA,” that’s Bennett’s Hierarchy.
I love using Bennett’s Hierarchy because it provides more guidance about what educational programs (even very short ones) should be targeting for outcomes. Thus, I think it is more intuitive for practitioners to use. It helps them better plan for how a program will be successful and better describe its successes.
In my own experience, I dread making a Kellogg-style logic models. Once you get to the outcomes, all the energy is drained and it feels like you are looking into a big black hole of possibilities. How do you figure it out? Bennett’s, on the other hand, I always enjoy making with clients. Typically, the structure of it guides our thinking about what makes the program successful. We end up feeling like we came up with something useful and powerful. At its core, Bennett’s Hierarchy isn’t that different from the Kellogg model. It’s just a lot more helpful.
Bennett’s Hierarchy describes seven steps that are necessary to get from input (the first step) to impact (the final step).
- Inputs: These are the resources to be used for the program. i.e. What you are giving? Same as Kellogg model.
- Activities: This is a description of what you will be doing. Same as Kellogg model.
- Participation: This is a description of two things. First, who is the target audience? Second, how many people are participating, for how long, how often, etc? e.g. scope, frequency, duration, intensity. This is a more tailored version of Kellogg’s outputs section.
- Reactions: This is a description of what the participants immediate reactions should be to the program. Did they find the program interesting, enjoyable, informative, etc? You can also call this the participant’s experience. These are a part of what Kellogg would call short-term outcomes.
- KASA: KASA is the most distinctive part of Bennett’s Hierarchy. It asserts that to achieve a “practice change” (the next step), participants should have prior changes in four areas. Knowledge: what they know. Attitude: how they feel. Skill: what they can do. Aspiration: What they want. KASA would also be a short-term outcome in Kellogg’s model.
- Practice Change: The goal of an educational program is for participants to apply what they learn to their lives. This is practice change. It describes what participants do differently. At this point in the hierarchy, the educational program has let go and hopes that the activities it did and the KASAs it produced results in something. This would be a medium-term outcome in Kellogg’s model.
- Impact: This is the end results of the practice change. What did it add up to for society? This is a long-term outcome in Kellogg’s model.
Bennett’s Hierarchy is often shown as a staircase with inputs on the bottom and impact at the top. The idea being that you are climbing the staircase. I like to show it as radiating circles. The idea being that as you move up, your outcomes are stronger and further reaching.
I use Bennett’s Hierarchy for evaluation. As with any logic model, when you move forward from input (the beginning) to impact (the end), the evidence for your program’s value is strengthened. If all you can share in your evaluation is your inputs, activities, and participation, you haven’t shown any change in your participants. You’ve only shown the potential for change and your evidence is supportive but weak. The further along you get, the more evidence you have that your program is achieving its goals. If you can show KASA outcomes, you have stronger evidence for practice change and impact. The further up you go, the better your evidence.
Unfortunately, the further up you go, the harder it is to evaluate your outcomes. Hard but not impossible. In my experience, even small educational programs can measure some form of practice change. First, they gain a lot of important evidence by doing a good job on the KASA outcomes and can usually evaluate these outcomes relatively easily in a post-program survey. Then, practice change requires a short follow-up survey – relatively simple if participants are engaged more than once or if they can provide their email address. Impact, on the other hand, is the big one. It’s hard to define and hard to measure. Every program struggles with this. Having a clear path in your logic model to impact is sometimes the best you can do with the resources you have.
You can also use Bennett’s Hierarchy for program development. Before you design your program, start at the top of the hierarchy. What is the impact you want to have? What practice changes will support that? What KASA will support the practice changes? And keep moving on down.