The assessment for the Systems Thinking portion of the case study will depend on whether you have an in-class exercise only or have the students create their own systems map. A systems map should include the minimum amount of elements and connections. Instructors should adjust the expectations based on the level of the course and the amount of time devoted to systems thinking. Sample elements are contained in the attached slides for the Systems Thinking presentation. Leverage point description and related questions should demonstrate critical thinking about the system.

Sample Assignment and Grading Components

Sketch out a system map for wild rice based on the readings, videos and in-class conversations. Here are some pointers for an introductory session on systems thinking:

  1. Indicate what the purpose of your system is.
  2. Include at least ten parts to your system.
  3. Draw arrows to make connections between the parts.
  4. Identify where there might be a leverage point. If you could make a change, where could it be?
  5. Write 100+ word description of your system.

Sample Elements to 

Consider in Your

Systems Map


Systems Thinking Diagram Total of 10 points Requirements for full credit
Purpose of system 1 Clearly articulated purpose
Selected parts included in system 3 Parts in the system (at least 10) consistent with description of system.
Arrows connecting the parts 2 Arrows indicate reasonable connections within the system.
Leverage point possibility 2 Leverage point selected demonstrates critical thinking.
Inclusion of social factors (stakeholders and institutions) 2 Social factors are integrated into the system map, demonstrating thoughtful interconnections between social and environmental factors.


Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Protecting Wild Rice Waters

Myrbo, A., Swain, E. B., Engstrom, D. R., Coleman Wasik, J., Brenner, J., Dykhuizen Shore, M., … Blaha, G. (2017). Sulfide generated by sulfate reduction is a primary controller of the occurrence of wild rice (Zizania palustris) in shallow aquatic ecosystems. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122.

Oelke, E. A., Teynor, T. M., Carter, P. R., Percich, J. A., Noetzel, D. M., Bloom, P. R., … & Fuller, E. I. (1997). Wild rice. Alternative field crops manual, University of Wisconson Cooperative Extension Service, University of Minnesota Extension Service. Center for Alternative Plant & Animal Products. 

Pollman, C. D., Swain, E. B., Bael, D., Myrbo, A., Monson, P., & Shore, M. D. (2017). The evolution of sulfide in shallow aquatic ecosystem sediments: An analysis of the roles of sulfate, organic carbon, and iron and feedback constraints using structural equation modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122.

Video: Introduction to Causal Diagrams