Effective communication is one of the key attributes future engineers need in order to be competitive in the global market according to the National Academy of Engineers1. Yet surveys from industry employers often indicate that the communication skills of recent engineering graduates are unsatisfactory2. This paper describes a strategy to improve student written communication skills and student engagement with the subject matter by developing the use of critical thinking skills during the writing process. The modified pedagogy discussed in this paper provided students with detailed guidance and clear expectations for each writing assignment. A combination of peer review and instructor comments was used as a means of providing feedback for students to incorporate lessons learned into revisions of first drafts. The most student-appreciated aspect of this pedagogy was the division of a full scale formal laboratory report into smaller, more focused writing assignments.