Evaluation Expert Jay Jayaratne on 18 Years – So Far! – at NC State

The Cooperative Extension office view of the Mountain Research Station and farms in Haywood County.

A critical component of non-formal education, particularly extension education, is determining whether the education achieved its intended outcomes – in other words, that the lesson, program, or initiative in question accomplished what it set out to do. This part of the extension education process is known as evaluation. 

Jay Jayaratne is an expert in evaluation. 

Specifically, his area of expertise is program evaluation, and his research focuses on “extension program planning, delivery, evaluation, and international agriculture”. Jayaratne is the state leader for extension evaluation for NC Cooperative Extension, and a professor in the Agricultural and Human Sciences (AHS) Department. His research, teaching, and extension work helps make sure that extension education in our state is effective.

Before joining NC State’s faculty, Jayaratne was the state evaluation specialist of the family and consumer sciences extension program at the University of Georgia. In 2006, he brought his expertise to NC State “because of the reputation of the department and the University”, and in the eighteen years since, he’s developed a long list of research, teaching responsibilities, and other projects. At first, says Jayaratne, his responsibilities were largely focused on building the evaluation capacity of NC Cooperative Extension field faculty, and teaching an evaluation graduate course. But then he started teaching an Evaluation in Agricultural and Extension Education course (AEE 557) every spring; next, Program Planning in Agricultural and Extension Education (AEE 521) every fall. Jayaratne also developed and teaches International Agricultural Development (AEE 705). “I have the opportunity to bring the extension education expertise I gained over 35 years of professional work in various parts of the world to these three courses for the benefit of the students”, says Jayaratne. In addition tothose courses, Jayaratne teaches Scientific Inquiry in Agricultural and Extension Education (AEHS 578) each summer. AEE 521, 577, and 578 are all available to students at other universities through the Ag*Idea university consortium program, in addition to NC State AHS students. 

Jayaratne notes that NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Agricultural and Extension Education program, have been supportive of his teaching, research, and extension work. “Because of this support,” he says, “I was able to emerge as a nationally and internationally known professional in extension education.” Jayaratne isn’t the only Wolfpack fan in his household, either: both of his sons graduated from the College of Engineering. 

In the coming months, Jayaratne will be taking on a research project to study climate change and extension education resiliency, and another collaborative project to study current methods of extension evaluation. He encourages potential students to consider a NC State degree. “Our graduate program offers comprehensive Masters and Doctoral programs in extension education,” he notes. “These comprehensive graduate programs focus on theory and application for preparing globally competent extension professionals.”

Courses Taught:

  • AEE 521: Program Planning in Agricultural and Extension Education
  • AEE 577: Evaluation in Agricultural and Extension Education
  • AEE 578-Scientific Inquiry in Agricultural and Extension Education
  • AEE 705: International Agricultural Development

Find three of Jayaratne’s recent publications below: