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How is Storytelling (aka Scenario Performance) evaluated?

Trained evaluators use a Storytelling, aka Scenario Performance, rubric-based assessment to evaluate student work in eight areas. See a sample scoresheet at the bottom of this article. Students receive quantitative feedback in their scores, which are marked from developing to exemplary. Evaluators leave qualitative feedback in order to support student narrative storytelling skills in their future performances.

International Conference
At our world finals, evaluators assess students as they perform live for the audience. Each evaluator uses a performer’s total points to determine their ranking. Points and rankings are converted to create a composite score, which is used to identify the top storytellers, by division, for placement and awards.

Scoring breakdown

Below is a breakdown of how many points are tied to each scoresheet criteria. Percentages have been rounded and may not add to 100%.

Storytelling techniques58%
Audience awareness58%
Use of voice1017%
Development of story1525%
Creative thinking58%
Connection to topic58%
Futuristic thinking58%

Rubric evaluation

Our rubric is a scoring guide that indicates the expectations for the creative narrative and is used to evaluate the quality of students’ work. The rubric is presented as a table, with criteria and descriptions of quality. Evaluators provide feedback and scores for each rubric criteria. The scores from evaluators determine the top performances in a competition and the learner-focused feedback gives students tools for continuous growth.

Since there is no single “right” answer, our evaluations employ a variety of strategies to review student work. Performance-based evaluations assess submissions using eight specific criteria related to the live performance, creative thinking, and more. We take extra care to provide specific, detailed feedback in each evaluation so that students and their coaches can use their feedback to develop and improve their skills.

While authentic assessment of student learning always comes first, we also depend on our uniform evaluation guidelines to provide a fair, consistent, and reliable method for competition scoring. All evaluators must be trained and certified before evaluating student work.

Storytelling techniques

Evaluators measure whether the student has effective pacing, unity/coherence in the performance, appropriate transitional elements in performance, clear enunciation and pacing, and an effective use of time in order to assess the student’s storytelling technique. Students whose stories receive the highest scores incorporate creative narrative approaches throughout their performance.

  • Effective pacing of story performance, unity, and coherence of performance
  • A variety of storytelling styles easily understood by others
  • Seamless transitions that enhance the story’s flow 
  • Adherence to and effective use of the 5 minute time limit 
  • Excellent diction reflecting control of story structure 

Audience awareness

Evaluators measure whether a student engages effectively with the audience, motivates the listeners to think about the perspectives in their story, and recognizes the needs of the intended audience to assess the student’s audience awareness. Outstanding performers will connect with the audience, not merely provide information. Engaging the audience from start to finish, storytellers involve the listener and vest them in the outcome.

Students whose stories receive the highest scores establish and maintain a strong awareness of and communication with the audience throughout their performance.

  • Recognize intended audience and communicates with audience
  • Motivate the listeners to consider presented perspectives
  • Engage the listeners

Use of voice

Evaluators measure if students have appropriate usage, variation, and range of tone. To assess the student’s use of voice, they look at how their personal storytelling identity emerges through the use of voice in their performance. Students with high scoring performances incorporate a variety of tone techniques that make a story lively and demonstrate a unique mastery of stylistic nuance and elements.

  • Well-crafted and varied use of words and/or crafting of sentences 
  • Employs conscientious and effective word choice
  • Vivid descriptions with imagery 
  • A clear, distinctive personal touch or tone, motivating the audience to consider consequences
  • Character and/or narrator voice(s) emerge when appropriate to the story
  • Sharing passion for the story in an engaging and contagious manner 

Development of story

Evaluators measure whether students have included a logical, justified development of plot and story progression, relevant elaboration, related connections and reflections,  idea development strategies and organization in order to assess the student’s development of their story. Students with high scoring performances include ideas that are complex and supported by rich, engaging, and pertinent details, strong evidence of analysis, reflection, and insight.  

  • Identification of the conflict (the challenge) for the story 
  • A relevant plot with possible climax and resolution
  • Consideration of a positive resolution or hope for the future
  • Sophisticated organization
  • Idea development strategies with relevant/believable elaboration 
  • Connections and reflections among events 
  • Effective use of allotted time used so that story neither drags or rushes inappropriately 
  • Portrayal of consequences/impact of ideas related to the timeframe of the setting 
  • Logical connection to the topic


Evaluators measure whether students create central, identifiable, sustained characters, whether animate or inanimate. They also consider the performer’s ability to evoke an emotional response from the listener as they assess how the student has developed characterization. Students with high scoring performances include authentic, dynamic characters that enrich the audience experience.

  • Presents central, identifiable, sustained character(s)
  • Develops characters with layered personalities that show emotional responses to situations and dialogue (characters can and should be flawed – this is what makes them real, it is difficult to identify with a perfect character)
  • Portrays characters that analyze, reflect, or show insight to ideas, issues, or concepts
  • Includes dynamic character(s) that experience a change (however slight) as a result of the “rising action” of the story
  • Evokes emotional response from the audience
  • Efforts made to distinguish character personalities through gestures or tone

Creative thinking

Evaluators measure whether students integrate inventive, innovative, original, and resourceful ideas as they assess the student’s creative thinking. A strong performance will include unusual/creative details and vocabulary, create a unique and powerful experience for listeners, and include a strong portrayal of innovative and original ideas. Students with the highest scoring performances incorporate inventive approaches throughout their  performance.

  • Inventive thinking
  • Innovative, original, resourceful ideas 
  • Vocabulary that provides unusual details
  • Unusual and novel characteristics of objects or characters, unique approaches to story development, and “out of the box” thinking
  • Surprises or a story that ends in a novel way
  • Elaborate sensory details developing thoughts, emotions, or reflections

Connection to topic

Evaluators measure if students have narrowed a topic to establish a clear focus, informed by research, as they assess the student’s connection to the topic chosen. Students with high scoring performances artfully blend research about the topic or topic related futuristic trends into the story.

  • Relevant terminology as well as knowledge about the topic
  • A connection of current topic realities/research to possible outcomes in the story
  • A narrowing of the topic to establish and maintain a clear focus

Futuristic thinking

Evaluators measure whether students integrate a portrayal of futuristic information, trends, ideas, and technological inventions into their performance as they assess a student’s futuristic thinking. Students with the highest scoring performances portray innovative ideas that are a blend of research, analogy, and creativity that enhance the story while maintaining the futuristic elements throughout the performance.

  • An integration of believable future information and trends relevant to the topic
  • Telling the story with a point set in the future as if it were really happening in the present 
  • Ideas based on current trends/research and logical projections into the future
  • A developed future society in language and ideas, implicitly as well as explicitly
  • Uses predictions to enhance story 
  • Maintains a new “reality” 20-30 years into the future from start to finish

Become an Evaluator

We welcome anyone in our global community to participate in our Storytelling evaluator certification process. Many alumni choose to stay connected and give back to the program as evaluators. It’s common for experienced coaches and senior division students to evaluate as well. All evaluators must complete training and certify in each program option they wish to evaluate. Contact your local affiliate for more information on becoming an evaluator. All those not connected to a local affiliate may work with our Open affiliate and/or be added to our pool of evaluators available to support needs across our global network. After successfully evaluating at the affiliate level, you may be nominated to certify as an international evaluator with an opportunity to evaluate our annual world finals competition held at our International Conference.

Attachment – Scorecard

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April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in Gifted Education. She earned the National Board Certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board Assessor for the certification of others. She was trained and applied the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities, which helped widen the educational scope and boundaries beyond the U.S. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for state level certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.