People Behind the Council of Coaches – Episode 5

In today’s episode of “The People Behind Council of Coaches”, we present the team from the University of Dundee and the Centre for Argument Technology

University of Dundee

The University of Dundee has nine academic Schools covering a variety of subject areas and has been ranked top in Scotland for research in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine. The University has around 11,000 students, 60 researchers in Computing, in the School of Science and Engineering and 500 scientists and clinicians in the School of Medicine. The Centre for Argument Technology (ARG-tech) is located in the Discipline of Computing at the University of Dundee. This group is committed to developing the vision, academic theory and commercial exploitation of an Argument Web – an interconnected network of opinions, arguments, debates and discussions – having attracted funding of over £5m, and has over 150 refereed papers in print.

Alison Pease

Alison is a lecturer in the Centre for Argument Technology and is leading on the argumentation and dialogue aspects of the project.

My background is in investigating patterns of reasoning, argumentation and creativity in various collaborative settings, and incorporating these findings into computational systems. The domains of healthcare and behaviour change are excellent application areas for these ideas. For instance, we have the opportunity to research the dynamic between healthcare experts who disagree, the role of an empathetic character in a group and how vicarious persuasion (being persuaded in an action or belief by watching someone else being persuaded) might work in this context.


Mark Snaith

Mark is a senior researcher in the Centre for Argument Technology.

When I was first invited to contribute to the Council of Coaches proposal, I thought it was a fantastic idea. As well as the overall concept, it’s also an ideal domain for dialogue and argumentation. We’re taking ourabstract models and theories out of the lab and “into the wild” in a genuinely innovative application.


Dominic De Franco

Dominic is currently doing his PhD in personalising argumentation within persuasive technology.

One of the fascinating aspects of the Council of Coaches project is not only developing the dialogue between the coaches and the user, but also the interplay between the coaches themselves. In order to make ourcoaches and the application as persuasive as possible it is essential that we consider the user we are trying to influence and develop an approach that is tailored to them. To achieve this we must incorporate concepts from classical to computational argumentation, psychology, health coaching and persuasive and transformative design. Bringing all these fields together in order to improve the well-being of our end users is challenging but highly rewarding.


Nicholas Conway

Nicholas is an NHS consultant pediatrician with an interest in diabetes and endocrinology.  He also has a research interest in health informatics.

My MD thesis focussed on how we can turn routinely collected clinical data into useful information via the use of clinical decision support.  The Council of Coaches project takes this kind of approach to the next leveland I am delighted to offer a clinical perspective to help in its development.  The number of people with diabetes continues to grow, with an estimated 425 million people affected.  As prevalence increases, so too does the burden on our healthcare systems.  Whilst prevention is undoubtedly better than cure, there is clearly a need to look for a sustainable approach to providing long-term support for those affected.  I’m hopeful that the Council of Coaches is leading the way.


Elaine McIntyre

Elaine is the project’s Stakeholder and Engagement Coordinator.

My administrative background means I’m very often working behind the scenes, so I’m excited to be working closely with users on a project which puts them at the heart of its research. My role involves organising workshops and events which allows these key stakeholders to express their opinions so that as well as conducting research, the designers and developers build a product that is informed by the users at every stage. It’s a truly innovative approach!

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