Learning, Performance, Mindset – I have a toolbox of strategies to share

Learning, Performance, Mindset

I have a toolbox of strategies to share

I have a unique blend of experience with my science, teaching and coaching work. Being a chemistry lecturer, I am familiar with the common mistakes that learners make and have researched extensively how to study and learn in ways that are most effective. I use evidence-based approaches in my work and a solution-focused outcome.

I know how confusing it can be when learning. As a student, I remember writing out my notes again and again, wondering if I was wasting my time or not. I had no idea what was the best way to study. I got frustrated when I couldn’t remember things despite my efforts. Being familiar with the typical mistakes students make, I set out to find the inside guide to studying smarter. 

I used to get so nervous particularly for presentations. I would feel sick in the morning, waking up with my stomach in knots. I could not eat anything and would count down the hours until it would all be over. When I did get through the presentation, I was exhausted. Now I present to large audience and enjoy the experience. I would never have believed that was even possible!

My driving test was another nerve-wrecking experience in my life where my right leg was literally hoping up and down and I couldn’t make it stop. Stress, nerves and anxiety can stop us in our tracks.

I wanted to understand more about human emotions and why we do what we do. So I trained with The Quest Institute as a QCH practitioner. They utilise evidence-based approaches and a peer-reviewed research project demonstrated that, in an average of six sessions, 71% of participants rated themselves recovered, compared to 42% of people using other IAPT therapies for mental health issues. 

I have been there with learning worries, lack of confidence and performance anxiety. I almost gave up. I want to help others, the help I wish I could have had when I needed it. 

You helped me through one of the toughest and challenging moments when I failed second year.

I lacked confidence and through your exceptional teaching quality and mentoring, focusing on understanding not memorising, I not only passed but with first class honours!

A, Business director

As I work extra hours during the week with university on top, it was really hectic trying to balance everything.

But thanks to you and the advice you gave me, not only did I do amazingly well academically.

I am doing so well at work too!

B, 2nd year undergraduate (future scientist)

Background & Experience

Following my chemistry PhD, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Milan, Italy and the University of Cambridge, UK. Problem solving and understanding what isn’t working has been key in my training! My academic career for over 15 years has given me extensive experience in the education sector. I published a book Study Smarter: a lecturer’s inside guide to boost your grades. 

Education & Qualifications

BSc Chemistry and PhD Organic Chemistry, University College Dublin. MA Higher Education, University of Hertfordshire. PGCert Higher Education, University of Hertfordshire. 

QCH Practitioner, The Quest Institute. MMTIC Certification Program, CAPT.


I was honoured to receive an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry.  The award ceremony took place at Titanic Belfast on Nov 18th 2016.  Photo shows L-R Robert Parker (CEO RSC), Me (Dr Suzanne Fergus), Prof Sir John Holman (President RSC)

Education Publications

Fergus, S., Hirani, E., Parkar, N. & Kirton, S. (2021). Strategic Engagement: Exploring student buy-in across a formative and summative online assessment, All Ireland Journal of Higher Education. 13, 1, 24 https://ojs.aishe.org/index.php/aishe-j/article/view/441

Sharif, S., Guirguis, A.Fergus, S. & Schifano, F. (2021). The use and impact of cognitive enhancers among university students: A systematic review, Brain Sciences. 113544 p., 355.

Fergus S., Birdi A. and Riaz F., (2019). A Framework Model for a Contextualized and Integrated Warfarin Therapy Case in a Master of Pharmacy Program, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83 (5), 6688.

Fergus, S. (2019), Using PeerWise to support the transition to higher education in Seery, M.K. and Mc Donnell, C. (Eds). Teaching Chemistry in Higher Education, Creathach Press, Dublin, pp181-194. https://peerwise.cs.auckland.ac.nz/docs/publications/Fergus_2019.pdf

Fergus S., (2018). How This University Fellow Makes Learning Meaningful By Connecting It To Real Life. EdSurge https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-02-20-how-this-university-fellow-makes-learning-meaningful-by-connecting-it-to-real-life

Fergus S., (2017). Writing a Chemistry Education Research Article: Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block? New Directions, 12(1) http://dx.doi.org/10.29311/ndtps.v0i12.673 

Fergus S., (2016). Change your Lens. Education in Chemistry, 6, 32. 

Fergus S., Kellett , K. and Gerhard, U. (2015). The Khat and Meow Meow Tale: Teaching the Relevance of Chemistry through Novel Recreational Drugs. J. Chem. Educ., 92, 5, 843-848. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed2004966

Kirton, S., Al-Ahmad, A., Fergus S. (2014). Using Structured Chemistry Examinations (SChemEs) as an Assessment Method to Improve Undergraduate Students’ Generic, Practical and Laboratory-Based Skills. J. Chem. Educ., 91, 5, 648–654. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed300491c

Fergus, S. and Hitch, G (2014). Assessing the Status of Fundamental Chemistry Knowledge Using a Visually Displayed Chemistry Diagnostic Test. New Directions, 10, 1, 50-58. https://journals.le.ac.uk/ojs1/index.php/new-directions/article/viewFile/517/512

Porter, P. and Fergus S. (2013). Ten Top tips to liven up your lectures! Blended Learning in Practice, 19-29.

Fergus, S. and Kostrzewski, A. (2011). Why the Contextualisation of Chemistry in the MPharm Curriculum is needed. Pharmaceutical Journal, 286, 513-514. https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/why-the-contextualisation-of-chemistry-in-the-mpharm-curriculum-is-needed/11074166.article


Royal Society of Chemistry, Higher Education Teaching Award 2016. National Teaching Fellowship, Advance HE, UK 2017.