The aim of the research described in this case study was to explore how practice teachers (workplace supervisors) in social care education viewed their role – what they saw as being most important and least important. What is described here is the process and decisions made when choosing a design that combined quantitative and qualitative elements. When you read research methods books or research reports, the choices made and problems encountered in conducting a piece of research are not always visible. This can present the conducting of research as a straightforward process rather than the messy reality of trial and error and returning to the ‘drawing board’, with its frustrations. However, while the process of carrying out research does not always run smoothly, the curiosity to find out about something, the learning that occurs in the process and the excitement of new findings far outweighs those setbacks along the way. Rather than presenting conducting research as a smooth journey, this article shows that while the process is not always simple, it is worthwhile and interesting.