What’s the model? What’s it look like?

 In Joseph Spilberg, The CAPE Blog

In the non-profit sector we are often confined to the logic model structure to explain the mechanics of how our programs work; we use our resources to do X program, the X program causes Y effect, and the Y effect contributes to the Z greater goal and mission of the organization. There ought to be a domino effect.

This structure, while potentially positive and change affecting, can also lead to a linear mindset. But more importantly, is this model true to the reality of how programs work? What does a functioning program look like? What about how learning happens; how can we visualize that?

Many times, programs naturally bust out from the linear model described above and take other forms. Things can happen cyclically, change can invert and divert. Life is unpredictable- and arts education is no exception to that truism. In the example below, this model for CAPE programs looks linear at first glance, but note that this model shows how teachers use the end of their process (reflection) to start the process of arts integration all over again:

In the past several years, I have gotten excited at the times when programs and research designs have taken on models that venture outside of the ‘norm’.

In 2011 during a research planning meeting, CAPE’s Education Director Scott Sikkema hypothesized that there is a cycle of learning that happens in the Veteran Partnerships Program. That same year, Researcher Laura Paradis culled data from dozens of interviews, observations, surveys, and teacher reflections and came upon this as one way to show how the program works:

This year in the Veterans Partnership program, there is an impetus to unwrap the relationship between inquiry practice/process and reflection practice/process, which is central to the work of our arts partnerships. In a planning meeting, researcher Susy Watts used this sketch to theorize on how the two are intertwined:

This model is a work in progress now being investigated- we’ll see what’s next.


Joseph Spilberg, Research Associate


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