Using Software to Train for Work

New video introduces ACT research project

Adaptive cognitive training can help individuals with mental or physical limitations to find their way in daily life at work. A new video introduces the CITEC research project ACT (Adaptive Cognitive Training). The v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel is working together on this project with Bielefeld University’s Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC). The training can be completed on a computer, and researchers are also currently working on a smartphone app.

Ludwig Vogel goes through the adaptive cognitive training program with a trainee. Photo: CITEC/Bielefeld University “We want to figure out what the skills for different vocational training fields are,” says Professor Dr. Thomas Schack, who leads the “Neurocognition and Action – Biomechanics” research group. “The person is taken at their current level of knowledge, and then gets suitable feedback to set their learning processes in motion.” The researchers are working to first correctly assess an individual’s skills, and then provide customized support. “For instance, we gauge the memory structures or the emotional requirements of the respective person,” says Schack. “Building upon this, the individual receives feedback that specifically relates to that person, and this targeted feedback helps them to undergo a particular development.”

Adaptive cognitive training is used by various trainees at the educational centers of the v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel. In addition to their normal vocational training at proWerk, they can internalize and deepen certain work processes during the training. To do this, the trainees sit in front of a computer screen, where they see different daily work activities. Using the computer mouse, they have to put these tasks in order in a way that makes sense. When taking an order, for example, it is important to first greet the customer and to ask what he or she would like instead of turning around and restocking the silverware drawer. Sticking to the order of tasks and not getting distracted during work can often be a challenge for individuals with disabilities.

“At first, it was a totally new study for us, since we didn’t know whether it was even possible to measure the participants’ memory structure,” says Ludwig Vogel, a member of Schack’s research group. “From a pilot study, we found out that memory structures can be made visible, and errors can be identified.” With the help of an app, which is already available as a prototype, the trainees can do their training when and where they want, allowing them to continuously expand their skills.

This ACT training also helps the trainers. “We can look at learning progress to see whether the memory structure has changed, and what part we need to work on next,” says Vogel. “I can then also make this feedback available to the trainers, and they can explicitly pay attention to this in the trainees.” In this way, certain learning disabilities present in individual workers can be balanced out without losing time in each step in the work process.

In the future, the app is meant to be complemented by a virtual avatar so that feedback can be absorbed even more quickly, thus making the training more effective.

More information is available online at:

Pres release on ACT launch:

Link to video on Youtube:


Prof. Dr. Thomas Schack, Bielefeld University
Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC)
Telephone: 0521 106-5127

Ludwig Vogel, Bielefeld University
Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC)
Telephone: 0521 106-5131