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Mrs Steph Doehler

Profile summary

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Professional biography

Steph is an award winning academic within the School of Education, Childhood, Youth, and Sport at the Open University. She joined the OU full time in February 2020 and has also worked as an Associate Lecturer since 2016. 

Steph has undertaken the role of guest reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals, including International Journal of Sport CommunicationSport in Society, and Journal for Learning Development in Higher Education. She is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Steph’s subject specialism is in the sociology of sport, focusing principally on the sports communication field.

Prior to joining the OU full time, Steph had several years’ lecturing experience within both Further and Higher Education. Steph has also worked as a Learning Development Manager within an awarding organisation, creating personal development awards and qualifications undertaken by more than 100,000 young people per year. Here, she set up the organisation's virtual learning environment and developed eLearning content for both learners and teachers. In this role she worked with several National Governing Bodies to develop their own suite of leadership programmes. Steph has also undertaken commissioned research projects for Sport England. 

​From 2018-2020 Steph was a member of the Expert Physical Education Advisory Group, one of seventeen Expert Subject Advisory Groups established and funded by the Department for Education.


Research interests

Steph’s research contributions are predicated on the critical analysis within sports communication, focusing particularly on both traditional media framing and social-media framing. Research undertaken has explored this through the lenses of gender, athlete activism, and athlete mental health.

She also has interests in the social construction of athletes, and the concept of heroism in sport.

Steph predominantly uses qualitative designs within her research.

In 2023, she was selected to receive an Emerging Scholar Award presented by the international Sport & Society Network to acknowledge her outstanding contributions to the discipline as an early-career researcher.  


Teaching interests

Steph provides extensive expertise in the sport and fitness fields having taught on a wide range of topics, particularly those related to the sociology of sport. She also has taught sport psychology, and professional practice in sport modules at undergraduate level.

Steph currently tutors on E117: Introduction to Sport and Fitness, and E314: Contemporary Issues in Sport and Exercise.

She has previously co-chaired E313: Exploring psychology aspects of athletic development, and acted as a critical reader on its replacement, E312: Athletic Development: A Psychological Perspective.

To find out more about the Sport and Fitness qualifications available at The Open University please click here.


Impact and engagement

Steph has disseminated her knowledge through various outlets, including at several international conferences. She has published in peer-reviewed publications and has several journal papers and book chapters currently in press.  

Steph has also written for Open Learn, and to disseminate her knowledge.

She has been invited to speak as a guest lecturer at several HEIs, presenting to a range of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Within the Open University, Steph is the Convenor for the Sport and Fitness Research Cluster where she contributes to a programme of events designed to improve and maintain the research Cluster which reflect the overall priorities and strategic research plan within the School of Education, Childhood, Youth, and Sport.


External collaborations

Prior to moving to the Open University full time Steph worked with several external organisations on various projects/pieces of work, including:

  • Led a £50,000 Sport England funded research project which used the voice of Looked After Children to understand the barriers, motivations and benefits affecting the engagement of young people in the care system from participating in sport-based social action.
  • Project managed the development of volunteer training for the 2018 Sainsbury’s Active Kids Holiday Clubs, in collaboration with ukactive.
  • Collaborated with global fitness company Les Mills to support schools and a new generation of children, parents and carers to be physically active, by creating a new wave of Les Mills BORN TO MOVE™ Activators and developing an online training course to upskill the delivery of BORN TO MOVE™ virtual classes.


Levelling the field? The English Football Association's promotion of their men's and women's national teams through Twitter (2023-05-10)
Doehler, Steph
International Review for the Sociology of Sport ((Early Access))

Taking the star-spangled knee: the media framing of Colin Kaepernick (2023-01)
Doehler, Steph
Sport in Society, 26(1) (pp. 45-66)

‘Full speed ahead Barcelona’: the social construction of Roy Keane’s 1999 semi-final performance versus Juventus (2023)
Doehler, Steph
Soccer & Society, 24(4) (pp. 581-592)

Role Model or Quitter? Social Media’s Response to Simone Biles at Tokyo 2020 (2022)
Doehler, Steph
International Journal of Sport Communication ((Early access))

A hero’s journey: the monomythical narrative of Diego Maradona’s World Cup appearances (2021)
Doehler, Steph
Funes. Journal of Narratives and Social Sciences, 5 (pp. 4-17)

Protecting the Brees brand: How Drew Brees Said “Sorry” for his National Anthem Protest Comments (2023-02-10)
Doehler, Steph
In: Rentner, Terry L. and Burns, David P. eds. Social Issues in Sport Communication: You Make The Call (pp. 64-74)
ISBN : 9781032327976 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York, USA

A Level Playing Field? How a Governing Body Promotes Its Men's and Women's National Teams through Social Media (2023)
Doehler, Steph
In : International Conference on Sport & Society (7-8 Jun 2023, Las Vegas, Nevada)

Role model or quitter? Social media’s response to Simone Biles at Tokyo 2020 (2022)
Doehler, Steph
In : Center for Sociocultural Sport and Olympic Research - annual conference (18-19 Mar 2022, California State University, Fullerton)

A tragic hero? An exploration of Diego Maradona’s stardom through national and local patriotism (2022)
Doehler, Steph
In : Official heroes and contested guerrillas: The role models of football fans’ patriotism (1 Apr 2022, Université Libre de Bruxelles & Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan)

Land of the free and home of the brave? The media framing of Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 National Anthem protest (2021)
Doehler, Steph
In : ECREA 2021 - Media, Sport, and Diversity online seminar (5-6 Nov 2021, Aarhus University)