8KQ in Doctor of Education Program, VCU – Tomika Ferguson


Dr. Tomika Ferguson, Co-Coordinator of the Doctor of Education Program in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, teaches the doctoral course “Frameworks for Decision-Making: Ethical Perspectives.” In the course, students are challenged to develop a critical lens to focus on in-depth analyses of ethical issues and problem solving using research, ethical theories and decision-making frameworks. For the past three Spring semesters, she has experimented with incorporating the Eight Key Questions (8KQ) ethical reasoning strategy and gives this report from her experience: “I have found that the 8KQ reasoning strategy is ideal for this course because of the opportunity it gives to challenge how educational leaders consider their approach to decision-making and how they navigate the relationships between themselves and their community and work environment in an intentional, disruptive manner. The 8KQ framework takes them out of their comfort zone and it deepens the significance of ethical reasoning for all levels of individuals, freshmen to doctoral students to senior administrators. For me, it has illuminated the importance of the intersected identities of educational leaders. The integrity and flexibility of the framework can lead students to acknowledge their bias and preconceived ideas of people and solutions while simultaneously collaborating with a diverse group to select an appropriate decision. Students cannot escape discussions where they may critique how social identities, privilege, and power influence ethical reasoning. All students can find an opportunity to connect with or relate to FORCLEAR within their decision-making as K-12 and higher education leaders. I look forward to continuing to embed the 8KQ framework in future courses, and to provide students an opportunity for personal and professional transformation as ethical leaders."


Involves Faculty, Involves Students, Involves Participants External to JMU


JMU Campus Scope, Harrisonburg/Local/VA




Ongoing (Currently in existence, year round)

Existing Center/Institute/Program


Type of Partner

Colleges and Universities

Primary Focus of Program

Education PK-12

Begin Date


Areas of Engagement

Engaged Learning



On/Off campus

Off campus

Academic Level of Engagement


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