Using Provocative Statement Assignments to Foster Critical Thinking in Leadership Education

This paper advocates for and describes the use of provocative statements as a leadership assignment to foster critical thinking. Critical thinking is an essential competency for leaders who must analyze issues and convince others of their point of view as they compete for scarce internal resources. The provocative statement assignment incorporates common elements from long-established practices of Socratic questioning, debate, argumentation analysis, and rhetoric. It challenges students to develop and advocate their point of view on the controversial issues of their field. Preliminary findings of student perceptions of the assignment in a graduate leadership class are presented which suggest the assignment can be a powerful learning tool.